Uncertain times for KSD

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KELLOGG — After a special workshop and regular meeting of the Kellogg School Board, it seems as though the district has some figuring out to do.

Following the second failure at their attempts to pass a $7.9 million facilities and maintenance bond, the board wanted to hear from the bond committee, as well as their constituency as to what they thought caused the failure and what they believe the next steps should be.

At this time, the board is exploring many options and has a lot of decisions to make as they look at these options.

For instance, despite the bond not passing, the board will now have to begin focusing on the bi-annual passing of their supplemental levy this coming May that essentially fills the gaps in funding that they receive from the state.

One of the biggest question marks for the school board will be the determination of the state’s new education funding formula.

That, coupled with some other factors that are simply out of the school’s control, have put them in the uncomfortable position of waiting and watching.

Many people assumed that the district wouldn’t wait and would try to pass the bond once again this fall, but the district doesn’t believe that to be the best course of action.

“We are not running anything this November, but will be looking for the best opportunity to run a maintenance and operations levy, and a possible facilities bond or levy in the future,” said Nancy Larsen, Kellogg School superintendent. “The uncertainty of the new funding formula will make it difficult to plan for this spring,”

Bond committee member Michele Rauenhorst spoke at length about some of her frustrations in informing other residents of the Kellogg School District as what the bond was for, how the dollar amounts were determined, and who made the determinations.

“We need to take a look at re-evaluating and addressing the most common and mostly false talking points made by those who voted no. Things like Canyon Elementary, consolidation, putting Band-Aids on buildings, past poor management, and the Admin Annex/old junior high,” Rauenhorst said. “We need answers on these issues as there seemed to be a strange lack of trust or blatant ignoring of the committee members and others who had answers to these topics, even from friends and neighbors.”

Rauenhorst went further on the idea the general public seems to be confused when it comes to the topic of how schools are funded and that the concept of consolidation might be a driving factor in some people’s decision making.

“The general public lacks an understanding of school funding, bonds and levies, and it leads to much misinformation being shared by just a few non supporters,” Rauenhorst said. “There are some people who believe that if we hold out long enough, we’ll end up consolidating local school districts, but it takes quite a majority to pull that off too. If 100 percent of Kellogg constituents and 49 percent of Wallace constituents wanted consolidation, we still couldn’t look into consolidating. And even if we had full agreement, our buildings would still require the maintenance and repairs that they do now.”

The board will continue gathering information to make an informed decision going forward and School Board Chairman Bonnie Farmin has requested that the Facilities Planning Committee reconvene and invite others to join in.

For more information, contact the Kellogg School District at 208-784-1348.

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