Newton feuds over school bond voting

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NEWTON, Kan. (AP) -

This week, we brought you news on the Maize school district bond issue, voters there overwhelmingly passed it. Now, another two-question bond is up for a vote, this time in newton. But unlike Maize, these bonds will cost tax-payers more than 85 million dollars.Upsetting many people in the community. But supporters tell KAKE News, passing this bond is the only way the city can grow.  

The town of Newton is divided. "We're only as strong as our schools and the support that we give our kids. Our kids are our everything  and that is what community is all about," says Christine McKellip, a Newton resident voting "yes."

Opponent Jerry Smith is voting "no," and he hopes the city will see his point of view "the citizens of newton just don't need another pile of debt put upon them. We're drowning in debt." 

If passed, the money would go for updating security in the schools and remodeling, as well as building a new K-6 school south of Highway 50. School officials say the first option needs to pass in order for the second, to be put in motion. "Well the hopes would be to create safe and secure spaces for our students and our staff members," says Deborah Hamm, the Newton Superintendent 

Supporters hope a majority of people agree and vote yes. "For us to compete effectively and to grow as a community, we need to be on a playing field and the only way we can get on that playing field is to have good schools," says Barth Hague, a Newton City Commissioner  

Community members voted on a similar bond a couple years ago, it failed.  Opponents do not want their taxes to go up.  If the bond passes, taxes would jump to $120 dollars a year, for a home worth $100,000. Business-owners would pay even more.

"Vote for your kids' future, your grandkids' and their kids because they are going to inherit all this debt," says Smith. 

Others hope the city will make a change. "I want to make sure that our students have today's tools available to them and as well as the teachers because they're having to work in that environment," says Libby Albers, a Newton resident voting "yes."

Newton voters can mail in their ballot or drop it off in a box outside the courthouse anytime. Voting ends by noon on September third. 

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