Conveniently, Platte County R-3 administration once again missed its enrollment projections in an election year where they ask the taxpayers for money based on impending doom of increased school enrollment.
If you just received your Treasures email from the district, they are telling you enrollment projections were off by only 4.5%. When I calculated the percentage of error, it came up to a whopping 92%, as the district grew by only 12 students this year from 2020 and the projection was for 153 new kids. If PreK were included it would probably be even worse.
This bogus inflated study we paid thousands for was just done in January and was presented to the taxpayers before the April election. It’s not COVID, enrollment is still down from the pre-COVID 2019 number by over 40 students and students are back in school this year.
Information from 2012 supplied by the district shows capacity at that time for the district was 3600 students. At the school board meeting last week, we were told capacity for the district is now 4,954 students. That is 1354 seats the taxpayers have added in nine years for tens of millions of dollars. Keep that 1354 number in mind because here is a fun fact. In 2012, Platte R-3 had 3666 students, this year they just reported enrollment at 4217. That is an increase of just 551 students in nine years, about the size of one elementary school. But during that same time we paid for an additional 1354 seats with bonds and a tax levy increase.
Is there a school somewhere with over 600 empty seats or do we have really, really bad administration?
Why did you not see this overabundance of empty seats in the flyers mailed to everyone before this year’s bond election or get anything from the district? Probably because of the approximately $25,000 spent by the R-3 PAC during the April election, more than $18,000 of which was donated by companies working on your new $100 million plus dollar high school complex, companies who stand to gain financially by giving the impression your district is growing more than it really is.
Money donated, as I have said before, to the PAC “Quality Platte County R-III Schools,” whose deputy treasurer is none other than your R-3 communications director Laura Hulett.
Since 2007, Platte R-3 taxpayers have approved over $125 million dollars in projects based on incorrect and in one case outrageous enrollment projections. Incorrect projections supplied by the district and used by the political PACs pushing for the projects, PACs being run by R-3 district employees giving you a one-two punch of “hand picked” information conducive to getting these ballot measures passed .
Projections used by the district just nine years ago before the 2012 election showed we could have as many as 5900 students by the 2020 school year–they only missed that one by about 1700 students. Even Biden can’t put a good spin on that one.
We are now adding another new middle school and rebuilding the high school while enrollment has gone down, and somewhere we should have 600 to 700 empty seats in our schools?
The new south middle school is being built on land that we have to pay full market value for if another new high school is not operational on that site in the next 16-17 years. When the current projects are done, using the district’s numbers we should have capacity for about 1200 additional students, students we may not have and the district will be in debt for over $130 million.
Since the Platte County Middle school was built and Dr. Mike Reik took over, R-3 taxpayers with interest have spent almost $50,000 per new seat added in the school district.
In what way is this being “good stewards of our tax dollars,” as we are constantly told in R-3 communications?
My prediction: In 14 years, since our bonding ability will probably still be maxed out for the new Platte City high school and middle school, the R-3 district will start a campaign to raise our property tax levy again to pay for a new high school on the prime “donated” land because if we don’t we will have to pay the fair market value of the land and R-3 will say that would be “financially irresponsible.” It will not matter if enrollment is up or down, they will just change the capacity numbers of the schools to make it look like a new school is needed, as has happened in the past.
For the taxpayers’ sake, I hope I am wrong, but I probably won’t be.
Rural Platte County