Dave Trabert

The Emporia school district is asking voters to approve a new bond issue, and it’s an important decision, requiring a clear understanding of all the facts.

Some Emporia residents came to Kansas Policy Institute with questions about the school bond issue, because we’re a non-profit research and educational organization with more than 20 years’ experience in school spending and student achievement issues.

But KVOE Radio Owner Steve Sauder objects to our efforts to inform the public. Mr. Sauder wrote a guest column in The Emporia Gazette which made an unfounded accusation about where we get our numbers on the school board issue. The facts provided by Kansas Policy Institute come from USD 253.

For example, the district is promoting the project as costing $78 million, but that doesn’t include interest payments. The USD 253 website says the total of principal and interest is $140 million.

Here’s another one. The district says the owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $34 per year in property taxes, but that’s just a portion of the cost. The real cost to that homeowner is about $140 per year.

What’s missing? The difference — $106 per year — is the cost of about 9 mills of property tax being paid now on another bond issue. The authority to collect that 9 mills goes away when the debt is retired in about two years; unless voters approve more debt before then, that 9 mills of property tax goes away.

Emporia residents are being asked to keep paying that 9 mills of property tax and add about 3 more mills on top … for the next 28 years.

Kansas Policy Institute isn’t taking a position on what voters should do. Every resident should look at all the information and make their own decision on this important issue.

We’re just providing facts and answering questions, because information is sometimes hard to come by, and transparency in government is essential.

(10) comments


Now lets see if I understand this. "We the people of the United States" includes the government. The constitution gives the government rights. Funny, I thought the Constitution was written to protect the people from the government not give the government rights?


If anyone really pays attention to anything Trabert does they will know that he uses just enough facts to make his arguments seem plausable and then twists them in an effort to make his anti-education and extreme libertarian views look good. For instance, he claims the district was somehow not being factual when they promoted the bond as $78 million and that it's actually $140 million. Has anyone here looked at a house and claimed it was a $200,000 house after mortgage interest or do we talk about a $100,000 house because that is the price it is being sold for? He then tries to twist the additional $34 per year estimate by complaining there will be a brief overlap and then adding in the cost of not having a bond at all. The KPI doesn't provide facts, they just spin them. If you want to be an informed voter (and I hope you do) then listen to anything groups like KPI says with a grain (or a whoie mine) of salt.

Dave Trabert

A resident asked about the total cost including interest but couldn't get a straight answer from the district. So we provided the answer.

Everyone should do their own homework, whether the information comes from KPI, The Gazette, a school district, etc. Our data comes directly from government, but government and media often don't provide clear or complete information...so we fill in the gaps. It's unfortunate that you believe it's 'anti-education' to expect school districts to provide complete, accurate information and to spend money efficiently and in the most effective manner to improve achievement...but that's your prerogative.


So, who doesn't use just enough Facts to make their Arguments? Nobody!


So, I don't see the problem. People went to KPI with questions, obviously enough to get their attention, and now they have come in to provide the information to readers of the Gazette as a service to those that have questions. I encourage others to check out their website as it is very interesting. I have used their website to crosscheck information that I was researching and have found them right on target. I didn't hear any of you liberals whining when Kelly got almost a million dollars (about 25% of her campaign financing) from out-of-state interests. Yep, present facts and liberals will get all antsy. Providing information to help people make informed choices? Priceless!


I know the goal is transparency, but it sure does seem you are going way out of your way to stop this bond or edifying the community to show not to trust public schools. You are based out of Wichita and OP why do you care what goes on in Emporia, Tonganoxie, etc. You are criticizing the district for forgetting to add $8.83 a month tax. People can surly overcome this all it takes is instead of drinking 7 cokes in a week you drink 4—not that hard to overcome $8 dollars a month.

Furthermore, it’s 2019 and it’s a bond how could people not be aware that there is going to be interest payments unless you are implying that the average Emporian is dumb. You act like USD253 is lying the bond DOES cost $78M and you said it yourself that the USD253 website “says the total of principal and interest is $140 million.” What are they not being transparent about then.

If the district put out something amending these changes and being full transparent with interest payments I would expect you to put out a piece applauding them for their effort to be transparent which apparently is your call to “greatness” You attack Steve Sauder, but hey he lives in this community he pays its taxes, he cares about its schools, and he donates to things he does not have to because we wants this community to be successful—you do not, but if you did live here I would respect your opinion. You do not live in Emporia, so I don’t understand why you are so adamant about 8 dollars a month. All you are trying to do is cut spending for social programs like your bosses, Charles and David, want you to.

It’s actually quite pathetic to think you are being transparent by typing 320 word article with no links or anything to fact check; basically you want people to take a word from a guy who couldn’t tell you a lick about Emporia lol.

Lastly, if you say you’re transparent who will you please right here right now reveal your donor base because you have not in the past? What are the odds you support every single one of the Koch brother ideology, but are not backed by them. Non-profit true; no agenda false.



Forgot to say that you lambasted the district for not including interest payments. That is like you buying house and being upset it is not fully furnished. It's expected!


Let’s have transparency all around. How about Kansas Policy Institute publish its funding sources, donors and affiliations so voters can get a precise idea on just who is trying to influence their votes.

Dave Trabert

Transparency is for government, but people deserve privacy. The US Supreme Court says Americans have a constitutional right to private free speech. We respect Americans right to private free speech and will not give out names and addresses so someone can harass them.


I'm all for you using your first amendment rights, but I think it is disingenuous to demand transparency from others and not to give transparency yourself basically your being that kid in school asking people what they got on a test, but not telling them what you got-- don't be that guy. I would defend the people writing my paycheck like you are I totally get it as it is the loyal thing to do, but where does that line cross when it comes to losing integrity and the hope and prosperity for others. You treat performance metrics for schools and business as the same, but they are not comparable as one goal is to make money while the other is developing the future of our society. When I think of efficiency there is a minimum point where you have to spend to get great results and you fail to respond provide this baseline number or number that leads to diminishing returns. For example, would Bill Self be happy that Frank Mason is being efficient because he practices in the off season 1 hour a week and shoots 35% during the season or would he be more happy if he spend 40 hours a week to shoot 40%-- the answer is the latter. Efficiency is not the end all be all to your "free market" spiel-- it is about doing things the right way and doing what is necessary based on future outlook. I agree that schools shouldn't receive excessive funding but cutting what they receive time and time again like your bosses had Brownback do won't lead to a better future for the majority of citizens. What if Emporia had a Joplin-esque Tornado that periled the lives of students because we didn't have adequate storm protection would it be worth that risk in order to be more efficient based off money spent per pupil?

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