Shawnee Mission Committee for Excellence looks to boost support for LOB, bond ballot questions

The reconstruction of Briarwood school is one possibility for the money from the proposed bond issue being put to area voters this month.
The reconstruction of Briarwood school is one possibility for the money from the proposed bond issue being put to area voters this month.

A Shawnee Mission campaign advocacy group has come together once again to support the latest school district election.

The Shawnee Mission Committee for Excellence – a group that has convened during every major campaign issue for nearly three decades – is working to raise awareness and advocate for the Shawnee Mission mail-in ballot election.

Committee Co-chair Brent Fuson said the committee is firmly focused on supporting the measure and reminding registered voters to watch for the ballot envelope being mailed on Jan. 7 from the Johnson County Election Office. It’s the first time Shawnee Mission has used a mail-in election.

The two ballot questions – which are due noon Jan. 27 – give district patrons a chance to vote directly on local funding, several supporters have said.

“All the money stays within the Shawnee Mission School District,” Fuson said.

He believes it’s time to make long-term investments in the district.

“You have to stay fresh and reinvest in your facilities,” he said. “With no tax increase associated with either one of these issues that makes it a pretty easy decision too.”

The committee has created a website, a speakers bureau, and has spread information through the district’s PTA network. Fuson said the committee is already out of all 1,500 yard signs created to support the measure.

The committee will send a postcard to homes next week and launch a Twitter campaign, he said.

The committee has also created an online endorsement page that allows the public to add their name or agency to the list. Endorsements include Kansas Board of Regent Fred Logan, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce and many others.

The mail-in ballot will ask voters to make two decisions. Question No. 1 asks voters to approve maintaining the local option budget (LOB) at 33 percent of the general fund for future years. The Kansas Legislature allowed the school board to increase the LOB from 31 percent to 33 percent this academic year without seeking voter approval. But voters must decide if the budget levy should continue for future years. Several other Johnson County school districts will vote on a similar measure.

Question No. 2 asks voters to approve a $223 million bond issue. The 20-year bond will pay to rebuild five elementary schools, a new aquatic center and upgrades throughout the district to improve security, technology, HVAC and much more. (The district announced earlier this month that the aquatic center will not impact the Environmental Education Lab on the campus of SM South). The proposal isn’t expected to increase the tax rate because the district will pay off earlier bonds before new bonds are issued, district officials have said.

The Committee for Excellence has a long history dating back to 1985 when an advocacy committee came together to support a campaign. The committee took on a formal name a few years later and has convened in every campaign since.

“For each of those elections the Committee for Excellence has conducted a campaign urging patrons to support the school district with their yes vote,” Fuson said.

It includes about 45 to 50 people, he said.

To learn more information about the bond, the district also has a thorough website for voters.