339 Dissolution

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339 Dissolution - By ROGER ROWLETT Times Staff Writer WINCHESTER...
By ROGER ROWLETT Times Staff Writer WINCHESTER - Residents of the Jefferson County North USD 339 are canvassing the district asking that voters oppose a proposition to dissolve the district on the Nov. 2 election ballot. The vote to dissolve the district is the latest fight in a long-standing rivalry between Nortonville (population 758) and Winchester (population 555). "We have been fighting for 10 years. We'll never be a unified district until we stop fighting among ourselves," school board member Mildred Ellerman of Nortonville commented at a meeting of the board Thursday. Fighting Over Higli School : The fight. now stems from locating . a, new school. Last., August about 400 people — mostly from Winchester — signed a petition requesting that a high school be built t at Winchester. The school board agreed to put a bond issue for the new building on the November ballot. Four of the seven board members are from Winchester. However, many of the people from Nortonville did not like the idea of taking away the high school from their town and putting it in Winchester. In September they circulated a petition requesting that the entire district be dissolved and the students sent to neighboring school districts rather than to a new school in Winchester. About 400 people signed the petition and the issue will be on the November ballot. Proposal Withdrawn The school board in turn thought that a vote to locate the, school in Winchester would aggravate public opinion enough to cause the district to be dissolved in November. The board decided to withdraw the proposal from the November < .•baiibf,-'•>•••• ••'•.='-;.•'•: .•.^'••v^--V Still faced with a tense •Vsjtuation'Uhe .board called a . 'special meeting Thursday night. The four-and-a-half hour marathon meeting seemed more like a devil exorcism than a meeting of a school board. After a series of accusations, tears and shouting matches the board finally came out in a show of unity — unanimously opposed to dissolution of the district. One member, Homer Weishaar, .Nortonville, had earlier signed the petition requesting dissolution. . Agree on Compromise Weishaar changed his mind after all of the members except president Sylvester Miller, indicated they would support a bond issue to build a new school midway between Nortonville and Winchester". The new school is projected to cost $1.999 million — about one-third of the $6 million assessed valuation of the entire 115-square-mile district. Miller said he would not vigorously oppose construction of a new school. "I can't afford it and I won't vote for it. However that doesn't mean that I will write any poison pen letters, to the inewspap'er either," Miller said. " : • The school district hasjbeen discussing the issue-*fOr^'over four years. In that time Topeka architect Glen Horst has given the board 14 different estimates on the project's cost. Horst has' also designed the additions to the Lansing and Atchison schools. •Fiscally Irresponsible' Board members have been reluctant to build midway between' Nortonville and Winchester because of the high cost. "It is fiscally irresponsible," commented board vice president Charles Domann of Winchester. Horst said construction of an equivalent building in Winchester would be $200,000 less than building one in the country. The cost difference is mostly from transportation of materials, water pumping facilities, and purchasing land. The school already owns land where a school could be built at Winchester. The devil of lack of unity was not totally exorcised at the meeting. Shortly after the vote of unity the board \yas back to arguing again.. Domann said, "I still think one petition- was • constructive (the proposal to build the school in Winchester) and one petition was destructive (the proposed dissolution). Mrs. •Ellerman disagreed. "I think both petitions were constructive. I don't think the people that signed the petitions were voting against education and I don't think it was just the people from Nortonville that signed the petition, so let's quit blaming the people of Nortonville," Mrs. Ellerman said. She said the people who signed the petition were expressing concern with the education situation in the district. However, the rest of the school board meeting was mostly a show of unity and members said they would work on setting up a group to canvass the area to ask voters not to vote for dissolution of the district. Needed Talking Out School superintendent Ronald Burgess, who is in his first year in the district, said, "We really - needed to talk this out and get this out of our system." Burgess outlined the pros ahd. cons which would come about'if" the district was dissolved. They included r • '. .• —The state board ' of education would decide which districts the students would be assigned to. Students cannot .change districts until after two years. —Landowners in the newly assigned district would be responsible for any new bond indebtedness the school acquires while the landowners are in the district. If the' landowner changes districts he would still be responsible for paying a percentage of any bond indebtedness the school acquired while he was in the district. —Members of the old Winchester school district would still be responsible for paying off bonds on the old school. —Landowners coming into a new district would not have to pay for any bond indebtedness the new school district acquired before the landowners joined the district. —The $1 million annual budget of the Jefferson County School district would no longer be spent in the district. Today's Times consists of 68 pages in four sections. Section A — Local, State, National, International, Political, and Sports News. Section B — Society and Heal Estate News. Section C — Family Weekly magazine. Section D — Comics.

Clipped from
  1. The Leavenworth Times,
  2. 03 Oct 1976, Sun,
  3. Page 1

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