Conestoga Stories Through Students' Eyes

The Prowl

Conestoga Stories Through Students' Eyes

The Prowl

Conestoga Stories Through Students' Eyes

The Prowl

A School Bond: The Time Is Now

Conestoga Public Schools is in need of a bond. This is a fact that only gets more true as time goes on. There are projects which simply have to happen but require funding. The longer that can is kicked down the road, the more dire the situation becomes, and nothing good has come so far from pushing it off, with nothing good poised to come from doing so further. The time has come to support the education system in the Conestoga community. This past bond saw the greatest effort at community involvement in the decision making process. Yet, it saw one of the largest defeat margins. The need is clear, which means that some compromise has to be made.

Raising taxes is, of course, not a matter which should be taken lightly. But, Conestoga currently has one of the lowest school levies in the county and passing a bond would not cause Conestoga to ask for a significantly higher amount than some of the surrounding districts. Additionally, it is important to consider that the cost of funding the district and paying off the bond will eventually be distributed amongst a larger populous of new residents as well as an energy company. People may have other concerns about a proposed project. If that is the case, school board members and school administrators have given, and will likely continue to give, opportunity to express those concerns, such as at community meetings. If many people share a common concern and state that resolving it would turn their “no” vote into a “yes,” then there must be some consensus achieved between school officials and voters, such as when the early childhood center was made a separate bond question.

With that being said, the components of the project are not unreasonable. Class sizes are growing and classrooms are quickly filling up. A stage is not a classroom space. A classroom is a classroom. Unfortunately, the high school is running short on those, which means that classes are being held on the stage. This is not an ideal learning environment as distractions occur on the other side of a mere curtain. It’s an extra burden on the activities in the school. Junior High wrestling and the drama department both have to tear down and reset the tables, chairs and board for almost every single practice, a task which takes up valuable time that could and should be used for bettering themselves in their extracurricular.

A space under the stairs or in the hallway is also not a classroom. Nonetheless, elementary school children who have difficulties with speech are receiving their extra help in those spaces. Those who work with them have reported seeing them go quiet when a class files by. No one wants to feel embarrassed in front of their friends, but kids need to learn how to make all of the sounds, which is why giving kids a safe space, free of distractions is important for their learning and social well-being.

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The previous bonds have proposed new classrooms which would eliminate this problem by adding enough space to meet not only current needs, but the projected needs of the future. Especially with the newly expanded highway opening up, Omaha is coming. Housing developments will crop up and new families will move in. When that happens, it will be too late to take action. The time to ensure that the district is ready for the wave of students is now.

Another large part of the project consists of renovations and updates. The high school building is old. Much of it is not to code. There is no sprinkler system. The parking lot doesn’t have enough capacity, a fact that is clearly evident at events such as the Cougar Classic wrestling invite. These, among other concerns, are serious issues which need to be addressed but are too costly to be accomplished with the funds available in the annual budget. Furthermore, the addition by the front doors of the high school and relocation of the office, would provide an additional layer of security for the students there. Science rooms built in the 1970s don’t conform to the needs of a modern science class. The shop is limited in what it can do because of the space. The funds could be obtained to purchase equipment which will enhance students’ skills in trades, an important factor for a rural community. The shop teacher is able to provide students the opportunity to graduate Conestoga certified in welding and ready to enter the workforce. However, in order to do this, a facilities update is still required. Passing a bond would ensure Conestoga High School is a safer place to gain even more valuable experience whether a student wants to go to college or enter a skilled trade.

Even the gym, the controversy of so many of the past bonds, is really not too much to ask. Additional practice space and larger capacity means that Conestoga students would be able to vye for home field advantage at more important games such as districts. Events like the Cougar Classic would not feel so crowded and practices could be moved to more regular hours with more space to go around to the various teams and groups. With the clear benefit stated, it’s really not the over-the-top luxury (costing only a fraction of the total project budget) that it might seem at first glance. Many of the surrounding high schools have two gyms. Conestoga building a second (better) gym wouldn’t be unusual, it would be keeping up. In the same vein, the elementary school lacks proper locker rooms and instead has bathrooms that offer only small concealed areas. These are the facilities that are given to junior high teams that have games at the elementary building. That is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and is another of the issues that would be solved through the passage of a bond.

The last bond failed. As did the bond before it, and the bond before that one. Bond after bond is being shot down. Nevertheless, there will be another bond proposal. If need be there will be yet another bond proposal and another one. They will never stop coming until something passes. The longer that takes, the more expensive the total cost of the project will become, the longer the residents of the area will be paying. There is a need that cannot and will not be ignored. The way the system is set up places the responsibility of meeting it on the voters in the district. The board of education has expressed a willingness to work with the community to come up with a proposal that will garner support. Now it’s time for the collective community to come to the bargaining table for the sake of the students.

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About the Contributor
John is a senior at Conestoga High School. He participates in numerous fine arts and academic extracurriculars such as band, one act, speech, and FBLA. This is his third year on the newspaper staff and he is excited to return to journalism. John would like to use this experience to continue his journey as a journalist and a writer.

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    ZsmittyFeb 9, 2024 at 10:10 am

    Good work John! Keep up the incredible work