Wa-Hi bond talks slated

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WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla School Board has scheduled a public work session Tuesday to take community input on the failed Walla Walla High School bond.

The session is scheduled from 4-6:30 p.m. in the district’s board room, 364 S. Park St. and is open to the public.

The board will be weighing whether to seek another, smaller bond in May or November, or consider other options in light of the election Feb. 12.

Although 53 percent of voters supported dedicating $48 million in local tax dollars to renovating Wa-Hi, 60 percent was needed for the measure to pass.

Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Mick Miller expressed his disappointment with the bond’s outcome during the Walla Walla School Board meeting Tuesday night.

Miller said with 53 percent of voters in favor of the bond, he could not recommend the board seek the same proposal again.

He said the board school could look at breaking the bond into smaller parts, and let voters choose their priority, or choose a priority as a board for residents to vote on.

Miller did say the board would need to have a resolution to seek another bond by March 8 if it is to go to voters for an April 23 special election. Another option would be to wait for the November election, and use the coming months to meet with community members again to secure a better plan.

The proposed Wa-Hi project would have made significant improvements to most of the school’s buildings, most dating back to 1963.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317.

Comments

barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow.... I sure hope somebody can tell us how we should feel about this......

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

I'll help you - obviously they don't take the hint the first time so try try again!

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

Elections cost dollars to run.....tax payer dollars. The school board must firmly believe money grows on trees.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

The district has responsibilities to the children and also to the community. It is trying to find the right balance to best meet both obligations. Completely ignoring the problems at Wa-Hi doesn't serve children who deserve better educational facilities, nor is it an appropriate response to the 53% of voters who said they wanted the whole package built.

That said, running the full bond a second time so soon after its failure would not make a lot of sense either.

Did you think that because 47% of you voted "no" on the full bond that the district would just drop it entirely - as if the needs weren't real?

And no, the district doesn't believe money grows on trees. That's why they want double-pane windows, a modern H-VAC system, insulated walls, an on-site track, and so on. These all save money over time. If you don't want to pay for any more bond elections, vote 'yes' next time so we can be done with it. You're the reason they have to try it again.

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barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow...... "If you don't want to pay for any more bond elections, vote 'yes' next time so we can be done with it. You're the reason they have to try it again." Really, did you say that? I guess we dont have to worry about Lincoln High, Roads/Streets and the annual Pool. Wow,

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Barracuda, it is a petty argument for someone to gripe about the cost of the bond elections, as Imjustsaying did, while at the same time voting them down, thus creating the need for more elections. It is your right to vote 'no,' but don't expect the district to give up on fixing Wa-Hi, especially when the majority of voters want something done.

If the bond only received 40% support, it would be different. But with a majority level of support and with the severity of the problems at the school, the district has no choice but to keep trying.

Also, I clearly meant 'done' with Wa-Hi, not done with fixing all schools for all of eternity.

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

Voting "no" creates a need for more elections? That's like telling a kid "no...you can't have more candy" only to have them with a "need" to now ask for more.

At first I applauded your passion for wanting the bond passed, but now you've shown yourself as nothing more than a pompous azz. It's sad that for those who disagree with your views, you attack them as illiterate or non-caring. New levels of bottom feeding was reached when you became the self-appointed grammar police. Your high and mighty attitude will not help get the next bond passed. The school board should ask that you cease and desist.

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barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Justsayin..... Shhhhh.... He's doin more to help our cause than I ever did.....Lol!

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

ImJustSaying... Your analogy breaks down in three ways: First, the district is not a "kid." Second, fixing science rooms, etc. is not the same as wanting "candy." And third, the majority of voters did not say 'no.' On the contrary, most want something done.

As for grammar, these posts are not the place to expect error-free writing, which is why I had never mentioned it before. However, when one particular poster was preaching to a 5th grader about what is needed for a good education, and that poster has consistently written as though he left school at age 10, there is an inconsistency there that can only be ignored for so long. (In that thread, my brief conversation with you about where the comma goes after "no" was intended as fun, not a serious criticism.)

I'm continually surprised that many - not all - critics of the bond here will write angry, accusatory posts and call people names (pompous azz?), and then get indignant when someone like me attempts to contradict them.

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barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Justsayin.... Another perfect example.......

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jace12 1 year, 1 month ago

'Barracuda' and 'I'm Just sayin' are absolutely correct. Thank you for clarifying this to our readers.

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

May I interject that the community has the responsibility to have schools available for an education but the citizens do not OWE anybody anything. (Check that grammar out)! Especially if it entails building the Taj Mahal to educate these students in. One thing about it my grammar may not be the greatest but I don't have to write a book to get my point across!

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Brevity is a virtue. You've got me there, namvet.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Since the gang is all here, allow me to pose a question: What should the district do now?

Before you answer, consider the following:

1) We may differ on what they are, but most people agree that there are legitimate needs at Wa-Hi; even barracuda has acknowledged this.

2) The district ran a bond in 2006 to address these needs, and it failed. The district left it alone for seven years.

3) The 2013 bond failed to reach 60%, but it garnered majority support.

So, given that the district has been very patient in the past, it now has a majority of voters who voted for the whole package and that the Board is also accountable to those voters, what should the Board decide to do? What would you guys support?

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

fatherof - your comprehension hasn't left you free from not understanding a post - so why don't you go back and read what I stated in my post (maybe more than once) to that 5th grader and try to comprehend that I was stating they were in an early stage in life to be making excuses for failures of the future. If you weren't so blank you would understand that. And don't you sweat your brow because I have enough diplomas for me and I write just fine as they are my opinions and not there to please you and your followers. As you can see I use wisdom!

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

I'll ask again.

Given the circumstances I listed in the above post, what action should the Board take that would be an appropriate response to the outcome of the bond election? Ignore the will of the majority and drop the whole thing? Find a modified version that can garner 60%? What would you support?

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barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Fatherof5...... So, while I appreciate your enthusiasm towards this cause... I have these items for you answers.

I have these items for your consideration.

1) I believe that our school system needs to operate on the budget that is set before them, they receive money(s) from the state of Washington, gleaned from our taxes. When WA-Hi was built, the idea of an "extra" operating bond once in awhile was an great option, and but not as much the normal. That said, I agree times have changed and the operating costs are skyrocketing etc. I believe that while a bond is sometimes necessary, two bonds on the tax rolls are too much. These two bonds on top of the other bonds/levy's that are already on the tax rolls are way too much! Lets pay some bills off FIRST! Bonds for the Fire stations, Police Stations, Roads, Pools, EMS etc. all need to be folded together to receive priorities on the list.

2) I have a tough time having any school board member(s) who repeatedly wants to use ALL the money received for ANY items THEY think is necessary. While (we) are making sacrifices to give the money to them to begin with. I have to give money (bond) to them to operate/upgrade a project that is approved by the voters, and that is ALL!!!! If there is even $1.00 dollar extra beyond the bills, it needs to come back to us or at least give us a "list" of options to say in where it goes! To me, it was blatantly a case of theft! They had no right to use MY money on projects (bus barns) not approved by the people they answer to! Yes, believe it or not, they answer to us, and as such, they have to ask us for anything out of the normal. Extra left over funds are WAY out of the normal! I believe this board would get a lot more support if some of the same people were no longer on the board. After the first screw-up, they had to vote to determine where to spend the excess. There were board members who did not want to give us a say in where to spend the excess money. It should have been a no brainer!

3) The school board would greatly benefit having a appointed representative on this site, answering any and all questions that should arise. Some replies on this site (including ones left myself) are a little shrill and snarky with the reply's. It is not a good way to get a vote or two. Sometimes your statements/replies have come across as a know-it-all and give the impression that is very belittling to any contradicting opinion.

4) I will vote against this until we get a better economy. We have to wait!

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barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Oops... I should have spell checked this.... Sorry, my typing class was along time ago.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Barracuda, thanks for the reply to my question. I appreciate it.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Barracuda, your reply gives us a platform for a dialog. We won't change each other's minds, but perhaps other readers might benefit from both perspectives being respectfully articulated. I offer the following response to your first point:

1) BUDGET: If I understand correctly, you would like the schools to find monies within their annual operating budgets to make capital improvements, and you would also like there to be just one bond at a time.

From my perspective, money for schools is already tight. Teachers are reminded to turn off their computers at night to save energy and are encouraged not to use colored copy paper, because it is more expensive than white. Schools are doing what they can to save $10 here and $50 there. Students are now paying fees to participate in sports. To find an extra $15 million within the operating budget to fix the Science Building at Wa-Hi, for example, would seemingly not be possible. This is where a budget expert from the district would be very helpful. (And by the way, the so-called "Maintenance and Operations" levies that have been mentioned by other posters are about "maintaining" programs; they have nothing to do with what we think of as physical building maintenance.)

As for running one bond at a time, that would be great, but I don't think it is mathematically realistic. Walla Walla has 10 schools. If each bond runs for 20 years, then each school gets improved or rebuilt every 200 years. Even 5-year bonds, which, if for a large project, would be tough for taxpayers to afford, would still take 50 years to get to each school. And then if you want to coordinate with bonds for the police, fire, roads, etc. - which are all on their own schedules and utterly independent from one another - I just don't think the math or the logistics work. It's a nice idea, but if we want good-to-great schools, one project at a time doesn't address the needs. If we are okay with run-down schools, then it works....but as a property owner and a parent, I'm not okay with that.

I'll respond to your point about the Board next, but I'm interested if my points on the budget make sense or if you think I am missing something. Thanks.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Barracuda, your second point is that the Board lost your trust a few years ago, when they used the extra bond money to build the transportation facility instead of returning the money to the taxpayers. And while you don't say this explicitly, it seems as though your resentment of that action makes you resistant to supporting future bonds, such as the Wa-Hi bond.

While my reaction to their use of that money is the opposite of yours, I can't say you are wrong. I think you've articulated your objections pretty well. When there isn't an upfront agreement about what to do with extra money, it can lead to this sort of division.

My take on it is twofold: First, I elect Board members to become the experts on school issues that I don't have the time or knowledge to fully understand. Then, I trust them to use their best judgments. I don't want to micromanage them. If they make poor decisions, then I can vote them out next time. My point here is that they learned far more than I ever could have about the costs of maintaining the old bus barn, versus the utility of building a new one. When we were fortunate enough to come in under budget on the school bond, I trusted they could find good and appropriate use for the remaining dollars. And I think they did.

Second, from what I now understand about the transportation facility, it is saving us tens of thousands of dollars each year and is also extending the life of our vehicles. It seems they made a good investment.

Where you and I differ, I think, is you view them as a government entity taking away your hard earned money, which is all true. I view them as the guardians of our most important and cherished public institutions - our schools - which I think are already underfunded. When you and I start with such different perspectives of the Board, it shouldn't be surprising that you resent their "theft" of the extra money, while I celebrate the good fortune of being able to make that money go further. Ultimately, my hope is that one's resentment of a decision they made in the past shouldn't prevent one from supporting a future project - if that project has merit - and especially if the Board votes to return any extra funds to the taxpayers.

Does my perspective make sense, even if it differs from yours? Did I mischaracterize your position? I'll hold off any further writing until tomorrow, as these are pretty long.

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janrocks 1 year, 1 month ago

Why is the meeting at 4:00 when most of the taxpayers I know work until 5 or later? This only allows people working school district hours to attend....those people are already voting yes!

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

My God barracuda - I had to put another ram of memory on my computer!! janrocks - I was also going to mention that some of us taxpayers don't work for 6 hours a day we work for the full 8.

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barracuda 1 year, 1 month ago

Fatherof5........ I am sorry, I will not debate these issues with you. I cannot keep up with your immense wisdom... I will be the first to admit, I am not as quick on the uptake as you seem to be in your essays. I am not willing to get into a debate on these issues, with someone who gets delight in making me feel that it is wrong to have the opinion that I do.

I have already stated the reasons for my opinions, and the reason for my vote. You just want to draw out another conversation to try to trip me up... Sorry, I have watched the way you play word games with others on this site long enough, and yet, I still gave you my answers to your questions.... If I have any more questions, I can do what I did originally, go ask a school district representative. I believe a school district representative should moderate this site.

This banter is a very big turn-off for some people....

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Honestly, I was just trying to exchange ideas and see if we could understand each other better or at least get to the bottom of these differences. There was no delight intended in my offering a counter-perspective. In fact, I chose my words carefully to avoid having this come across as banter.

I replied because I genuinely don't understand how the math works out that we could have one bond at a time for 10 schools or to pull enough money for capital projects out of operating budgets. That's why I asked. I do get that you don't trust the Board and that you don't believe now is the time for a new bond. And I agree with you that the district should have a point person for blogs like this. I'll leave it at that.

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

The problem is that you do not "listen" to what others are saying. You're not looking to "exchange ideas". You never acknowledge that "no" voters have valid points. All you do is lick your chops at the opportunity to throw volumes of information at us with the continued belief you will change our minds.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

I appreciate your comment, ImJustSayin, and acknowledge that I am largely in "point-counterpoint mode" on this site. That said, I DO try to acknowledge when you and the others say something I agree with. For example, I just told barracuda (above) that I agree with him that the district could put a spokesperson on this site. I also acknowledged to him that, while I agree with the Board's past use of extra bond dollars, I can't say he wrong about his disapproval of that action.

I did genuinely try an "exchange of ideas" above, where I posted a question, I paraphrased barracuda's response, and respectfully countered where I disagreed. And then I asked him to clarify whether or not I had understood him correctly and if he understood me. He took it as just more "banter" and "belittling" so, obviously, I wasn't successful.

I joined this site in December because I saw the same anti-bond bloggers consistently pouncing on every bond letter and facing very little opposition. I found the tone of some of those bloggers to be really rude toward letter writers and district officials. Reading some of those comments felt like I was descending into a primitive slugfest of anonymous slander and ridicule. I was also concerned with how many of the facts were being misrepresented. So, I came prepared to be a counter-balance to that, and to do my best to keep the tone elevated. (My supporters congratulate me on the restraint I've shown; my detractors think I am an arrogant know-it-all. I favor the former, but probably both sides have a point.)

I am not under any illusions that I will change your minds. Your positions are set, as is mine. My hope is that when undecided readers compare our arguments, they will find mine to be more compelling than yours.

That's why, for example, I wanted to clarify barracuda's most recent argument about doing "one bond at a time." To me, it seems obviously not mathematically possible to maintain 10 healthy school facilities "one bond at a time," but I really am open to having barracuda explain what it is I don't get about his plan. However, if he cannot explain how this would work without having to wait 50-200 years to get to each school, then I'd like other readers to see the flaw in his reasoning. If he can explain it, well then, he has made a valid point. That seems fair to me.

When people object to the bond for reasons that I believe are demonstrably false, such as "costs are skyrocketing" or "we pay more than most other communities for our schools" or "the CP bond will lower Wa-Hi class sizes," then my purpose for being here is to factually demonstrate the falseness of those claims. I don't mean to offend, but some folks want to freely criticize the bond without being willing to have their own ideas challenged. Sorry, but my kids will be harmed by the failure of this bond, so I'll challenge you when I feel your criticisms lack merit and I'll agree when I think you're right.

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

fatherof5 - If you hadn't noticed what part of the internet on the Union-Bulletin website this happens to be the Opinion section. Not all people favor your opinion or care or take the time to read your elongated ramblings. I have an opinion and I personnally really don't care what you approve of or disapprove of but I will espress my opinion any time any where. Have you ever heard of the First Amendment?

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

I have absolutely no disagreement with anything you just said. I'm not sure why you said it, but I agree with it all. And yes, I have.

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Larch 1 year, 1 month ago

About the grammar point that came up: In an earlier thread (under a heading about not voting) after the school bond failure, ImJustSayin said of fatherof5's post, 'This letter is an obvious prompting by "adults" to guilt those who voted "no".' Then fatherof5 replied, 'Your grammar was quite good, by the way, though the period goes inside the quotation mark on "no."' No! Punction goes inside quotation marks only when the punctuation is part of what is being quoted. If not, it goes outside the quotation marks. Well done, ImJustSayin.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Hi Larch. Admittedly, this is for grammar geeks, but at the risk of boring the others, I'll explain. In both England and America, ALL punctuation marks that are part of the original quote should be included inside of the quotation marks.

However, if a punctuation mark is NOT a part of the original quote, it gets trickier. In England, this 'non-original' punctuation would always go outside the quotation marks. So, what you have described, Larch, is true if we were in England.

In America, exclamation points and question marks follow the British logic, but periods and commas are always written within the quotes (unless the quote ends with a single letter or number). This is where the systems differ.

So, the following examples are correct in both America and England:

I shouted for him to "STOP!"

I'm begging you to believe me that I asked him nicely to "stop"!

Did you say, "thank you"?

He asked, "Why did you do that?"

I got my test back and received an "A".

The following are correct in America, but wrong in England, where they would put these commas and periods outside the quotes:

He told me his favorite word was "ubiquitous."

You say, "toMAHto," while I say, "toMAYto."

You can find plenty of sources online to confirm this is the way it is done. Here's one link. Here's a really interesting article on the subject in Slate that argues the American rules should be changed to the way you stated, Larch. And again, I originally only brought this up to ImJustSayin as a teaser. He writes quite well, and the question of comma/period/quote placement really doesn't matter in these blog posts.

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Larch 1 year, 1 month ago

To fatherof5: Thank you for responding. However, please don't "explain".

You have almost gotten under my skin. I notice you are good at that! I was educated in the United States in American public schools--Walla Walla public schools--in grammar classes where I was taught American grammar. That's how & where I learned the rule in question--a simple, not a tricky rule. I won't be unlearning it. Perhaps the teaching changed after I left school--or perhaps the learning did--but you in your research didn't seem to find this history of an American change noted online. Someone at Slate thinks that she or he is proposing something new from England instead of something older from America?

Ah, the Internet. The woman in the State Farm TV commercial knows that everything on the Internet is true, & so, without doubt, her Internet boyfriend is a French model. "Uh, bonn-jurr," he musters.

However interested, I won't reply again, because readers concerned (as of course I have been too) about the local school bonds--the topic here--have had their patience tested enough, even if our Walla Walla education system has turned out to be the subject of this grammar point too.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Larch, I don't mean to get under your skin and apologize for doing so. In a previous career and in another part of the state, I taught Journalism for more than a decade and had to know where commas went in relation to quotation marks. My attempt to "explain" this was -- in all humility -- because I really do know what I am talking about in this area. I used to deal with it literally hundreds of times each year.

The online links I provided were not for my benefit. I knew and taught this rule before the internet was invented. You can find it described in old editions of the AP Stylebook, the MLA Handbook and Strunk & White's Elements of Style, to name a few.

My explanation was not intended to be condescending. To the contrary, in spite of your celebratory "No!" in your earlier post, I really tried to be cordial and avoid any appearance of gloating. Truth be told, this is a strange rule and is easily confused. I'm not sure why you would have been taught the British grammar rules at Wa-Hi. Sorry to have offended.

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Jo99362 1 year, 1 month ago

The last superintendent did a poor job for future bonds by spending the excess funds from the Edison project on new bus barns instead of giving it back to the public. I strongly feel that Wa-Hi does need a whole new Science building, my old HS that was built in the 60s was way better than Wa-Hi's and it has half the student population. Sure, the academic building needs to be overhauled and upgraded too. What is the deal with the track? Are they planning to use the school for track & field meets now? Or is it just for PE?

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Good question, Jo99362. My understanding of the track is that it would serve PE classes and the track team. Currently, I'm told it is unusable in wet weather and really limits the PE options during much of the school year. The district's insurance company has apparently declined to insure the track. It is also so old that it is measured in yards, not meters. So, for all of those reasons, it is inadequate for PE and not usable for the track team practices or meets. Making matters worse, the district spends $20,000 per year transporting the track team to Martin Field for practices.

Some view the track as a "want," but if you are going to field a track team affordably and get the kids moving outside in PE, I think you "need" a functional on-site track.

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

fatherof5, it's time to stop the charade. You are clearly an employee of the school district who was directed to sign up for a U-B ID and respond to whatever was posted to this site. You have too much information at your finger tips and your replies are WAAAYYYYY too long for us to believe you are some regular dad wanting the best for his kids.

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Strangely, I was having a similar conversation this afternoon with my middle daughter, who was asking me why I know so much about this stuff. All of the info I've shared has either been available online or has been shared at bond presentations. You've educated yourself about the bond pretty well, so it surprises me you wouldn't know that. If I were under their direction, would the district really let me tick off some of you "no" voters like I apparently do? I really am the father of five kids in the school system, I am writing on 100% of my own initiative, and my words are absolutely my own, but you can believe what you want. You are correct, however, that some of my posts are waaaay too long.

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

A couple of things......

  1. namvet60, can I assume you are a veteran?

  2. There are over 40 comments to this thread. The dead horse called. He wishes to not be kicked anymore.

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

imjustsayin - yes I am in my earlier life of 7 decades and have been a very concerned citizen of the United States of America. I still work for a living and pay taxes as does everyone else but when I get thrown under the bus for misplacing commas, periods and exclamation marks I get a little up tight. But guess what - my health plan is based on Medicare and Medicare supplement. I didn't mean to turn this into an extended essay but you asked! Have a good day. :)

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

I asked so that I could thank you for your service!

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ImJustSayin 1 year, 1 month ago

And namvet, my "dead horse" comment was not directed towards you. It was towards the overall length of the thread.

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

imjustsayin - I appreciate that but I did it because I wanted to for the country. I also apologize for the former comment on my age instead of earlier. Besides back then the military was kind of the first step in life but now days some think that it is a sin to be a part of the survival of our country. Thanks again!

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fatherof5 1 year, 1 month ago

Despite our differences, namvet, I would echo ImJustSayin's comment regarding your service. It is good to be free to disagree. I still think you would like my wife's lasagne.

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namvet60 1 year, 1 month ago

As much as I hate to say it I appreciate it but I have always spelled lasagna with an a - Have a great weekend!

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