Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Follow up to Tuesday’s story about the $78 million proposed bond issue in the Millard Public Schools: the leader of the opposition is a very nice, very reasonable guy.
“I don’t mind them spending money,” Paul Meyer said. “I just don’t like them wasting money.”
He said he has presented the Millard Board of Education with 110 recommendations for reducing the budget, and 34 questions about the bond issue. What has been the response? Zippo.
“It’s the typical shove-it-down-your-throat mentality,” Meyer said. “To school administrators, taxpayers are good for one thing, and one thing only: to provide the money.”
Examples of what he finds amiss in the $78 million spending proposal:
-- Meyer said the package includes $3.4 million to purchase land for two elementary schools and a nontraditional high school. At the $38,000 per acre rate the district cites, and using standard space allocations, that comes to just over $2 million. So, Meyer asks, what’s the other $1.4 million for?
-- The district says it must have those new schools in place because new neighborhoods are going to be built on 5,000 empty lots within the district. They figure that will bring in 3,500 more students. Meyer said, “That’s a bunch of baloney. With interest rates, we’ll have 2,000 more kids, tops. And they won’t be here next year, but many years from now. Millard already has a new grade school opening this fall. We’ll be fine for years.”
-- The bond proposal calls for $1.4 million to install artificial turf on the football field at Millard South. Meyer points out that if it costs $10,000 a year to fix the grass at the end of each football season, the district could play ball for 100 years before that $1.4 million would be cost-efficient.
-- He said the district could mail out ballots to voters to get much more voting participation than they will surely get by setting up polls on Feb. 15. Retirees and snowbirds will be disenfranchised because they’ll probably be out of town in warmer climates, for example. He is going to ask that the district go the mail-vote route, but isn’t holding his breath. Meyer said the unusually last-minute nature of the bond issue reflects a desire by school officials to avoid the accountability of a normal election, which he says they’d lose overwhelmingly. He also said the Feb. 15 election is going to cost $85,000, while waiting until the normal May 10 general election would have cost just $28,000, and a vote-by-mail system would have cost $25,000 at most.
Meyer said he moved to the Millard schools to keep his children out of the Omaha Public Schools’ busing program many years ago. He was a leader in the fight against Omaha’s annexation move against Millard. He has run for the Millard school board a couple of times. He retired as corporate safety director of Holmes Freight Lines, and recently went back into the trucking industry.
So he’s just one guy, working full-time, and yet he’s taking on a big bond issue in the state’s third-largest school district that comes up Feb. 15 against well-financed opposition?
Yeah, well . . . a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Meyer plans to have an organizational meeting soon, would love to receive donations of any size to pay for an informational flyer he’d like to get out, and would love to have volunteers step forward and distribute that flyer to 100 or 150 homes, maybe a couple hours’ work.
Contact him: Paul Meyer, PaulMyr1@aol.com
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