Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Inappropriate "Services"

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Inappropriate "Services"

I have contacted many people, in the Lee's Summit school district, and none of their children are receiving appropriate social skills training for autism.

Social skill is not a “service” but a functional skill necessary for daily living activities. Learn what the IDEA, the federal regulations, and the Commentary say about Present Levels of Functional Performance and IEP goals for functional skills.
Read Pat Howey’s article What You Need to Know About IDEA: Present Levels of Functional Performance and Functional Goals in IEPs.
Your child’s IEP must include a description of her Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance. This means what her strengths and weaknesses are – both in academics and in functional areas like social skills.
If your child has “functional needs” the school must meet these and address these needs with goals in the IEP.
Questions to Ask
Remember, you are part of the IEP team. You have input about your child’s needs and what services may be needed to meet these needs.
Does your daughter have challenges in the social skills area?
Is her weakness in social skills accurately described in the Present Levels?
Does her IEP include goals about how the school will meet these challenges?
Do the goals meet her needs?
Is she making measurable progress toward these goals?
You need to request a meeting of the IEP team to discuss your concerns and to review and revise the IEP.

Reorganized School District No.7
301 NE Tudor Road
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086-5702
Phone: (816) 986-1024 Fax: (816) 986-1160
Jerry L. Keimig
Executive Director of Special Services

December 22, 2008

Ms. Heidi Atkins Lieberman
Assistant Commissioner
Division of Special Education
Missouri Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education
PO Box 480
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102-0480

Dear Ms. Lieberman:

This letter is in response to concerns expressed by OSEP regarding Ms. Tucker. Ms. Tucker has responded to staff in our District with a continual barrage of emails and web postings on a variety of topics expressing concerns, sending general information regarding special education issues, and conducting personal attacks on staff.  (It was my intention to offer information on the appropriate services for a child with autism.  Many of my emails were ignored unless I sent several requesting responses.)

Ms. Tucker continually voices her concerns regarding educational programming for her son. We would agree that he has specific areas that need to be addressed, but despite multiple District attempts to provide direct interventions for her son, she has refused many of these services. We have even developed additional course offerings in response to her concerns, but once in place, she has refused to allow her son to access programming. It appears that Ms. Tucker is more interested in a personal attack on the individuals responsible for providing educational services rather than accessing existing services designed to provide educational benefit for her child.  (This is totally inaccurate.  I sent a “continual barrage of emails” with research on why these programs were not appropriate.  I have been personally attacked by the district and this letter is a perfect example.  They did not develop an additional course for my son.  They wanted to put him in a class with children that had were emotionally disturbed and then grade him on his social progress.  How can they begin to believe that could be appropriate?)

It is the Lee's Summit R-7s School District stance that we have been extremely responsive to the concerns of Ms. Tucker having devoted hundreds of hours to discussion of said concerns and viable solutions. We would welcome an opportunity to present the district view to an independent panel either through a DESE child complaint or a due process hearing.  (They want me to go to due process because they think that they can weaken my resolve.)

C: Dr. David McGehee

Social Skills Groups: What Does the Research Tell Us?
Autism Spectrum News
The Promise of Research
Fall 2008, Vol.1, No. 1
Lynda Geller, Ph.D.
Asperger Institute
NYU Child Study Center

Social skills deficits are considered to be one of the critical diagnostic impairments that define autism and Asperger Syndrome, so it perhaps not surprising that both school personnel and clinicians in the community frequently recommend that a child or adolescent on the autism spectrum should be enrolled in social skills groups. The intention of such groups is to improve the development of these skills that often are so compromised. Yet just how much research evidence exists supporting the effectiveness of social kills groups as they are currently being delivered? The goals of this review are to summarize what the research tells us regarding efficacy of group social skills development models and to suggest to families what they should require from those delivering this kind of service.

Social skills are critical to successful adult outcome, from having rewarding personal relationships to academic and vocational accomplishment to overall mental health and quality of life. When considering these issues for the individual with an autism spectrum disorder we must be cognizant of the developmental nature of these conditions. Individuals on the autism spectrum have underlying brain differences that affect how they experience the world. In turn, experiences in life have direct consequences on ongoing brain development. So the outcome of any child’s development is the sum total of underlying assets and deficits and the life experiences that continuously shape all of us and directly impact brain development. That is why early intervention is such a powerful tool. It actually shapes brain development during critical periods and individual outcome can be profoundly affected by having or not having these kinds of experiences.

Those of us who work intensively with children with autism continually witness how autism unfolds and how the lack of certain experiences contributes to the ultimate outcome of each one of them. For example, it is not uncommon for parents to tell us that their child has never had a friend. While this is painful in and of itself, the developmental ramifications are significant. Peer interactions are necessary to develop the skills for maintaining conversation, taking perspective, playing appropriately, controlling emotional expression, negotiating conflict, and experiencing intimacy. Without these experiences in childhood, establishing a positive adulthood is very difficult. So, the child with the developmental differences of autism suffers the additional burden of limited experience in critical areas, resulting in what we so often see in young adults as inability to establish relationships or maintain a job and personal independence.

Therefore it is no wonder that so many clinicians and educational professionals try to provide development in the area of social skills. We all know it is critical for successful adulthood. But is what is being typically provided in schools and clinics effective in improving essential social skills?

Very recently, four significant reviews of social skills interventions have been published (White et al., 2007; Rao et al., 2008; Matson et al., 2007; Bellini et al., 2007.) They provide guidelines for assessing social skills groups as they have been implemented and give us important standards for assessing whether critical qualities exist in what is being currently offered.

White, Keonig & Scahill describe their concern with social skills development as being based on findings that social skills deficits do not remit but become more devastating with age as the social milieu becomes more complex; that children in inclusive settings are often more rejected and isolated, yet are not given the skills to succeed; and that social skills deficits contribute to academic and occupational underachievement and later mood and anxiety problems. Given these outcomes, high quality social skills interventions are crucial. Fourteen studies were identified that addressed group intervention for children and adolescents identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD.) All studies had very small sample sizes (ten or less.) Only two studies utilized a manualized approach specifically developed for individuals with an ASD while others used techniques developed for other populations. Others simply described their approaches in greater or lesser detail. Only five studies included a comparison group and none used randomized assignment to treatment group.

None of the studies could be considered an effectiveness study, that is, one that examines the generalizability of gains to other settings. White et al. concluded that the state of research about social skills groups is still in its infancy.  However, they identified some promising strategies, based on what was demonstrated in the studies that should be considered in future program development. These include stimulating social motivation, rewarding social initiation, reinforcing appropriate social responding, treating interfering behaviors, and providing opportunities for skill generalization. Their strongest recommendation was that we need to develop and validate manualized social skills curricula to be utilized in schools and community-based groups.

Rao, Beidel & Murray reviewed papers evaluating social skills training programs for youth with Asperger Syndrome or high functioning autism to assess their efficacy and make recommendations for future research directions. They examined ten studies of high functioning children on the autism spectrum as such students are more likely to be in inclusion settings where the social demands are more intense. They found that current research is lacking in the following areas: establishing a common definition of what comprises social skills; conducting research that includes having control groups to compare outcomes and having blind observers to evaluate results; generalizing techniques to other settings; and conducting long term follow-up to determine if an intervention had any effects on eventual outcome. They recommended that future studies utilize manualized treatments specific to particular social deficits (e.g. simple interaction versus relationship development,) that more rigorous research designs be employed to assess effectiveness, and that generalization beyond the office be specifically implemented and measured. As in the previous review, these authors noted that the feasibility of improving social development through group instruction has been demonstrated, but the specific methods need further research.

Matson, Matson & Rivet examined a wide range of social skills interventions for children with ASDs of all functioning levels. In their review of seventy-nine treatment studies, they generated specific recommendations of what is required for the field to move forward toward more validated and specific social skills treatments.

They suggest:

• Parent training models to improve generalization and to make intervention available for younger children,
• Programs that address interfering behaviors or comorbid disorders (such as severe anxiety,)
• Interventions for children under six years of age whose brains have greater plasticity and who should be developing skills they can practice throughout elementary school,
• Need-specific programs that can differentiate between those who need very basic versus more advanced skill development,
• Consistent use of measurements in existing school and community social skills programs to assess if participants are meeting their specified goals.

Bellini, Peters, Benner & Hope reviewed social skills interventions being delivered in school settings. As social skills development is almost universally stated as a goal for special education students with ASDs, this is a particularly critical area to examine. A meta-analysis of fifty-five single-subject design studies was conducted to formulate some generalizations about treatment effectiveness of programs as they are currently being delivered in schools and to specify what approaches seem to offer the best potential. Bellini et al. reiterate that there is only minimal evidence that social skills training programs are effective for children in general, let alone for those for whom social deficit is the defining attribute.

The most important conclusions of this review were that social skills interventions in schools, as they are being reported in the literature, have low to questionable treatment and generalization effects and moderate maintenance effects. That implies that most treatments were not particularly effective in changing social behavior or affecting any changes that generalize across settings, but that any changes that occurred were somewhat maintained. The studies were then assessed by approach with the general findings that interventions need to be more intensively implemented, that they should occur in context rather than in an office, that the strategy should match the specific skill deficit, and that validated treatments should be implemented by clinicians trained in the specific intervention to insure effectiveness. The findings of this analysis were discouraging and implied that much of what is now being done for students with ASDs in schools may be rather ineffective.

Given the limited research evidence for the effectiveness of group social skills interventions, what are responsible recommendations? For community-based interventions, parents should ask the following questions:

• Is there a manualized, evidence-based curriculum or a well-designed, explicit program with specific goals?
• Do the proposed group members have similar needs that are being addressed specifically?
• Do the target behaviors being addressed make sense for each member?
• Is generalization to real-life settings being designed as an integral part of the program?

As children with ASDs typically lack good generalization skills, it is necessary to provide more specific opportunities for practice in realistic settings. This can be implemented through parent involvement with each session’s lesson, rehearsal and reinforcement homework for members, and prescribed member interaction between sessions. Interventions can also take place in actual life locations. Of importance, as well, is the therapist’s orientation to achieving measurable goals.

Does the group leader

• Assess each member’s needs before inclusion in the group?
• Have plans for assessing effectiveness?
• Consider the family’s specific desires for skill acquisition?
• Assess satisfaction with the service at the conclusion?
In-school services also need to be examined. Families should request that
• Services be very specifically described on the student’s individualized educational plan
• Those delivering the services have knowledge about both social skill development and the specifics of delivering such services to children on the autism spectrum
• Services be of sufficient intensity to be effective
• School personnel are utilizing evidence-base practice
• Interventions are being delivered in authentic locations such as playgrounds, classrooms, and lunchrooms, rather than only professional offices.
Sometimes parents do not feel sufficiently knowledgeable or empowered to request the services their child truly needs to promote the best outcome. It is important for parents to be wise consumers by
• Requesting specific plans and generalization strategies
• Learning how to reinforce social skills through play dates and get togethers
• Helping their child maximize strengths and interests in social settings
• Negotiating with school treatment teams to implement a true social skills program that is individually designed and data-driven.

Meanwhile, professionals who specialize in autism and Asperger Syndrome can help families gain awareness of the current state of knowledge; understand what they as parents can specifically accomplish with their children; and know what critical questions to ask of anyone currently providing social skills intervention in schools or community. Together, parents and professionals should continue to advocate for more treatment-based research on social skills development now.

Bellini, S., Peters, J.K., Benner, L., & Hopf, A. (2007) A meta-analysis of school based social skills interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders.
Remedial and Special Education, 28(3), 153-162.
Matson, J.L., Matson, M.L., & Rivet, T.T. (2007) Social-skills treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders. Behavior Modification, 31(5), 682-707.
Rao, P.A., Beidel, D.C., & Murray, M.J. (2008) Social skills interventions for children with Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism: A review and recommendations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(2), 353-361.
White, S.W., Keonig, K., & Scahill, L. (2007) Social skills development in children with autism spectrum disorders: A review of the intervention literature.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(10), 1858-1868.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Autistic Students

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Autistic Students

Today, the CDC has now announced new numbers in autism prevalence: 1 in every 68 children under the age of 21 has autism, 
including 1 in every 42 boys. This is a 29% increase since the last update (1 in 88 in 2012).

The last time that I was able to get the information, Lee's Summit had 17,559 students. 150 of those students had an educational diagnosis of autism.  Another 250 had a medical diagnosis. If the CDC is correct it would mean the Lee's Summit would potentially have 258 students with autism.  

This means that there are potentially 158 autistic students that are not being served.  Following is the law in Missouri and the facts on how well educated the persons making decisions are.  In Missouri a person designated as an autism specialist decides your child's educational diagnosis regardless of how many doctors disagree or have diagnosed otherwise.

Best Practice Guidelines: There are currently no best practice guidelines to 

help bring consistency in the therapies and methodologies used by local 

school districts. However, the lack of such guidelines is a symptom of a larger 

problem – the absence of a database and statewide data collection system to 

help classify the specific issues faced by each individual child. The database 

could also be used to identify helpful treatments and to scientifically support 

the appropriate use of various methods of intervention, treatment, and 


Eligibility: All public education programs for special education students 
contain eligibility criteria. IDEA Part B allows school districts to determine 
eligibility of students for services. Although students may already have 
received a formal medical diagnosis of ASD, some districts insist on 
performing their own assessment to determine eligibility for services, which is 
often labeled an “educational diagnosis.” Some parents and providers 
testified that they view the educational diagnosis as a bureaucratic method for 
the school district to deny services to some children. 
Program Conflicts: For students with ASD with more severe behavioral 
issues, parents testified that some school districts have failed to address and 
consider a student’s neurological and mental health status, and have 
employed methods intended for students whose behaviors are not the result of 
a disorder like ASD. Such methods include isolation or suspension from 
school under the criteria established by the Safe Schools Act. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that the Department of Elementary and 
Secondary Education solicit proposals to design a data collection system to 
support analysis of ASD intervention across the lifespan (evidence-based therapies 
or teaching practices) and costs of serving children with ASD organized by 
appropriate classifications. 
It is recommended that the data collection system be created for all students with 
ASD using the state-wide identification number and be submitted to the Department 
of Elementary and Secondary Education. Access to the data should be granted to 
appropriate public school personnel, qualified researchers in the field, and 
individuals specifically authorized by statute or rule. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that local school districts inform parents of 
the importance of having a service coordinator from the Department of Mental Health present at the IEP meeting that takes place around the fourteenth birthday 
of a child with ASD. The Department of Mental Health can begin to develop 
transition goals for the child, and determine which state agencies should be 
contacted while fostering stronger relationships with the child and his or her 
family. The child’s family or legal guardian would have the right to exclude this 
individual from the IEP meeting. 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that the state of Missouri develop and 
implement best practice guidelines for educational assessments and interventions. 
Evidence-based best practice guidelines for effective educational assessment and 
interventions for ASD should be developed and disseminated broadly to act as a 
resource for Missouri school districts. 
B. Missouri’s Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement 

The Blue Ribbon Panel recommends that Missouri allow equivalent funding to 
follow the student to the provider of the parent’s choosing. Having options for 
treatments or services empowers parents and encourages the General Assembly to 
explore models of choice in educational services. The General Assembly should 
investigate the merits of ASD scholarships, open enrollment for students with 
ASD, public and private partnerships, and any other educational opportunities for 
students with ASD, students with developmental disabilities, or students with 
developmental delays. 
F. Educational Diagnosis 
While it is clear that the evaluation of children conducted by educators is not done to 
“diagnose” the child, but rather to see if and how the diagnosis of ASD adversely 
impacts the child’s education, there is considerable misunderstanding created by the 
requirement to “make an educational diagnosis.” 

In Missouri, there are two ways for a child to be eligible for services under the federal 
IDEA. First, a child can have characteristics of a particular disorder, such as ASD, 
that grants automatic eligibility. Second, children can be eligible for early 
intervention services between the ages of birth and 36 months by having a 
developmental delay, defined as functioning at half the developmental level that 
would be expected for a child developing within normal limits and of equal age. The 
Blue Ribbon Panel heard numerous concerns about this requirement, including the 
perception of how it limits high-functioning individuals with ASD, who need the 
social and communicative services that are not otherwise available to them. 

Public education programs for special education students require students to meet 
eligibility criteria to qualify for services. Some children come to the school district 
seeking services with a medical diagnosis of ASD. Under IDEA, the school district 
is to consider the medical diagnosis and determine whether that diagnosis requires 
any educational intervention or supports. Testimony indicated a perception problem 
and semantics issue involving this process. Although the school district is not to 
dispute that a medical diagnosis has been made, many special educators and school 
districts use the term “educational diagnosis” to describe the process by which they 
determine whether educational intervention is required. In this way, it appears to 
parents that the school district is conducting its own diagnosis of the child and is 
making a different decision than the multi-disciplinary diagnosis team previously 

AUTISM CONSULTANT: Missouri does not have such an educational designation.  However, there is a three-tiered system of Project ACCESS autism educational consultants described below.
IN-DISTRICT AUTISM CONSULTANT (IDAC):  A certified teacher with a minimum of two years classroom experience is selected by his or her school district’s administration to attend the Introduction to Autism training either in a face-to-face format or the online format through Project ACCESS’ Community of Practice site. In addition to the Introduction to Autism training, attending the Working with Autistic Students in the Schools (WASS) OR Early Intervention for Young Children With Autism (EIYCA)training is also required. These trainings enable the teacher to attend the Autism Consultant Training (ACT). An administrator must send an endorsement letter indicating the school district’s intention to use that person as their In-District Autism Consultant (IDAC). School districts may have as many IDACs as is deemed appropriate for the district’s needs for a staff member to consult with colleagues serving students with ASD in their own districts. Project ACCESS will provide each IDAC with a nametag and maintain a participant database.  If the IDAC moves to another Missouri school district, the new district can make a written request to Project ACCESS and the IDAC status can be transferred to the requesting district.
Each person attending the In-district Autism Consultant training must complete a separate registration form.  Candidates may register online using My Learning Plan. 
  • Training Dates: June 16, 17 and 18, 2014.
  • Training Times: Registration is from 8:00 to 8:30 on the first day and training begins at 8:45 and lasts until 4:00.  On day two and three, training begins at 9:00 and ends at 4:00.

You can do the math.  Three days of training 

and you are in charge of making decisions 

that will affect a person's entire life.  Forget 

the eight years of school that the doctor 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Daily Press - Hampton schools sued $7.5 million over sexual assault

Daily Press - Hampton schools sued $7.5 million over sexual assault

HAMPTON — The parents of a special needs student at Kecoughtan High School are suing the city of Hampton and its school system for $7.5 million, alleging that "gross negligence" and staffing shortages resulted in their daughter getting sexually assaulted in a classroom last year.
The suit contends that a Hampton schoolteacher and another staffer knew the couple's autistic daughter required constant supervision. But in the morning of May 29, the suit alleges, the teacher went to a meeting and left the student alone in a classroom.
"While (the student) was left unsupervised, a male student came in and sexually assaulted her," said the suit, filed in Hampton Circuit Court by attorney Jeffrey A. Breit on behalf of the student's parents, Adam and Laura Ann Flores.
In an interview Friday, Breit added: "He was just walking by the classroom, sees her, and comes in."
The City of Hampton and Hampton School Board are accused of failing to provide adequate funding and staffing for special needs students "in gross violation of their duties to provide such students with a free appropriate public education."
Also named as defendants are Hampton City Schools as well as Kathleen Lassiter, a teacher at Kecoughtan, and Frances Brewster, a special education assistant.
The sexual assault, the suit says, was the "direct result" of the "gross negligence" of the city, School Board, school division, Lassiter and Brewster, wrote Breit, with the Virginia Beach firm of Breit, Drescher, Imprevento & Walker.
The city and School Board "failed to allocate sufficient funds for special education for the Hampton Public Schools on behalf of disabled students, in gross violation of their duties to provide such students with a free appropriate public education," the suit says.
Diana Gulotta, a spokeswoman for the school system, declined Friday to comment on the suit on behalf of the school system or staff. Hampton Chief Deputy City Attorney Jeff Sachs also declined to immediately comment.
Lassiter and Brewster couldn't be reached.
Police charged the former student, Joseph Aguilar Jr., now 20, with aggravated sexual assault on an incapacitated person, said Hampton police spokesman Sgt. Jason Price. A court hearing on that felony charge is set for May.
The Daily Press is not naming the woman — who is now 21 — because the newspaper's policy is not to name sexual assault victims. The paper is naming her parents, however, because they are seeking millions of dollars from the city and school division.
According to the lawsuit, the student has a low IQ and a level of autism that "significantly impairs her social and occupational functioning, her social interactions and her judgment" and her "ability to manage her person."
"Her attention is easily distracted, and she wanders off easily, thus making her vulnerable to people who mean to do her harm," the suit says.
The suit says that the student had an individualized education plan in place in which she was to be escorted "curb to curb" from home to school, and get her own assigned assistant throughout the school day. The lawsuit asserts that Brewster was to be her daily escort, but for some reason she "stopped meeting (the student) upon her arrival" at the bus stop at some point during the year.
Instead, the suit says, the student would walk from the school bus into school by herself, and find her way to Lassiter's classroom, where she was assigned the previous year. Brewster would meet her there and take her to her current classroom.
But on the morning of May 29, the suit asserts, Lassiter left for the meeting before Brewster arrived.
The actions of Brewster and Lassiter were "in reckless and willful disregard for her safety," the suit contends. Moreover, the suit contends a failure to allocate sufficient special education funds left the student "vulnerable to attack."

BPD investigating parent's claim her daughter was tied up in a McKinley Elementary School bathroom - 23ABC News

BPD investigating parent's claim her daughter was tied up in a McKinley Elementary School bathroom - 23ABC News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A parent of a special needs child attending McKinley Elementary School says a teacher tied up her daughter and left her in a rest room last week.
The family said the school district called them Monday to inform them about how the child was disciplined the week previous. The family then called the police to make an official complaint and took their child out of school.
Bakersfield police has been at the school for several hours Tuesday investigating. Bakersfield Police officials said they are in contact with the parents and the school. They are making a preliminary investigation into the matter.
"I want to know why my daughter was restrained in the bathroom left by herself last week and I just found out about it yesterday," Esmeralda Diaz the student's parent.
While 23 ABC was interviewing Diaz at her home in Northeast Bakersfield,  the teacher who allegedly put a child in the bathroom called to ask why her daughter has not been in school.
Diaz told the teacher that she is not bringing her child back to the school ever.
"I thought my daughter was safe at the school and she's not," said Diaz.
BPD officials said there were no injuries to the child.
BPD officials said it was a matter of teacher training, and not a criminal investigation.
School district officials said it is early on into the matter of these allegations. They said they are making a preliminary investigation. The teacher has not been disciplined and is not leave.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Lee’s Summit Resident, Embarrassed Lee’s Summit School District is Using Scare Tactics to Push Tax Levy - Lee's Summit Tribune - Lee's Summit News

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Lee’s Summit Resident, Embarrassed Lee’s Summit School District is Using Scare Tactics to Push Tax Levy - Lee's Summit Tribune - Lee's Summit News

Lee’s Summit Resident, Embarrassed Lee’s Summit School District is Using Scare Tactics to Push Tax Levy

Lee’s Summit Resident, Embarrassed  Lee’s Summit School District is Using  Scare Tactics to Push Tax Levy
January 29, 2011

By Guest Columnist Marlene Alley

I am a Realtor for Infinity Realty, and a long-time resident of Lee’s Summit.  My husband’s family (Hertzog) is second generation, life time residents of Lee’s Summit.  I have been an active participant, on the Board of Directors, and member of my local PTA.  In addition, I have provided many volunteer hours at my children’s school, inside the classroom.  I am, and have always been, FOR our Lee’s Summit schools.  As such, in the past, I have always voted “yes” for all school and tax levy elections.  However, this time, it’s different.  

I am both ashamed and embarrassed at our School District for inaccurate and scare tactics that they are currently using to try and push this new 89 cent tax levy to get passed in the special February 9 election. Additionally, a lot of time has been spent on researching the actual facts by local residents, including a good friend of mine, who is a local resident and attorney, Linda Marshall.  

This first item is not about my concerns with all of the TIFs that Lee’s Summit has granted large developers in the past.  However, as it specifically pertains to this tax levy the school district is pushing, currently, there are several hundred thousand dollars in the Blackwell TIF Account.  The School District used its two votes on the TIF commission to drain funding away from the schools and put it into this account.  Of that amount the school would be entitled to 30% if they had not cast their two votes for the Blackwell TIF.  (How many teachers’ salaries could be paid with this money?) 
The second item is the current School District Levy. If it seemed like we paid more in taxes this year, we did.  The rate went from 5.946 to the present level of 6.0456.  Despite the School District’s claim about shrinking revenue, according to the Jackson County Collection Department, our School District actually received over one hundred million dollars ($104,543,499.45 in 2010 and $102,992,328.69 in 2009).  Additionally, the School District actually has $2 million more from property taxes this past year.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools, even though, it’s true the School District is short about $6 million from the State, they actually received an additional $8 million from the federal government in 2010 (which includes money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).  Specifically, The R-7 District received $49,705,752.71 in 2010 and $55,332,485.97 in 2009 from the State, but received $14,802,193.64 in 2010 and $6,053,577.70 in 2009 from the federal government.  

As my husband will attest to, math is not my strong suit, but if my calculations are correct (and my husband, who is my human calculator has verified), this should put the School District ahead by about $4 million.

But on the R-7 website, the District claims: “The financial crisis is compounded by growing enrollments and rising costs in areas such as fuel, utilities and benefits, including state-mandated retirement contributions.” 

Last week, I couldn’t believe I saw a flier that the School District allowed to be sent home in my children’s backpacks (which I believe is in direct conflict with the District policy that shouldn’t ever allow this type of flier to be sent home in the children’s backpacks at all).  What makes this even worse, is: in the Flyer in HUGE print, they make it look like the enrollment increased by 500 this last, but if you take your magnifying glasses out, and look at the very small print, in their website, you find that this is the additional enrollment since 2007 – not our current school year.  It turns out that (Page 4 in the question and answer section of the R-7 website) the rapidly growing enrollment really amounts to only half of that amount this past year.

There are 18 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 High Schools. Again, the whole math thing, there has actually only been an increase of about 1 1/2 students per grade. 

I believe our school principal at Highland Park is one of the best around.  However, I have recently seen pleas from our principal being sent out via email in our children’s Thursday Packets, urging everyone to vote for the levy.  She states that there will be widespread cuts in teachers.  So, attorney Marshall looked up on the District’s website and found a summary of the proposed cuts if the levy doesn’t pass:  The total number of teachers or instructional staff proposed to be cut in 2011-12 are 16 - 2 full time AIM and ASPIRE teachers; 10 general and another 4 elementary school teachers.  Again – the math thing comes to light:  This is less than one teacher per building.

According to our City’s records, there are two TIFs due to expire in the next two years. The School District will receive $1.8 million in additional tax revenue from them. 

Stay with me for just a little longer.  Back to the School District’s  website salaries and benefits make up 74% of their budget.  The Tribune recently published a list of the salaries of administrative staff of the R-7 School District.   There are at least 10 administrators (several that I think need to be looked at to see if one of THEIR positions can be cut, instead of teachers), that make between $120,000- $205,000 per year – not EVEN including the tens and thousands of dollars in benefits.  We have some of the highest paid administrative people in the Midwest!  If these ten administrators would take just a 10% cut in pay, it would give the district an extra, $150,289.  According to the district website the average teacher makes $48,000. So, let’s do the math again – that would employ almost three teachers!

In the Flyer sent home it says that “Included in the 20% cut (Extra-curricular #1,#2,#3):
“Elementary: after-before school choir, district-wide honors orchestra, environmental club, lead elementary librarian, science fair, student counsel, remedial reading coordinator, safety patrol, yearbook, Crossroads learning Center, and other activities and programs specific to individual schools.”

I can only speak to Highland Park for the last five years, but we don’t have an environmental club- (we do have an outdoor classroom paid for by the PTA).  We don’t have a science fair, safety patrol or a lead librarian, and I can’t imagine that special choir and or student council really cost that much, PTA is always looking for ways to help so if that is really an issue maybe they could step in.  Our yearbook is also paid for by our PTA and parents, so that also shouldn’t be included in what would be cut.

What this means for Home Owners:

Lee’s Summit currently is the 9th highest in the State (out of 523 districts) in school levies.  If the levy passes we would be #2. As a comparison, Blue Springs which has received many of the same honors as our school district ranks #18. (These statistics have come from the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary schools.) According to the District’s information the .89 cent increase per $100 of assessed value would translate into an increased levy of $336.00 for a home assessed at $200,000. Trying to sell a Lee’s Summit home, with such a high levy, the Buyer’s will offer less money to the Seller, and then the Seller will have to sell their home for less, de-valuing the property further, until this 89 cent tax levy ends up netting the school district no more money, yet costs residents and business owners more.  This will cause more foreclosed homes, and empty businesses as they are forced out of business by too high of taxes to be in Lee’s Summit.

For a commercial/small business owners whose tax value is higher than residential, this means a lot more money in taxes.  It will mean that the price of your child’s dance classes, Karate classes, not to mention food at local restaurants will go up because the cost of owning commercial real estate will go up.  I know of two small businessmen in this City that have told me they will go out of business if this new increase passes. 

Finally, the election board will be sending the School District a bill for more than $120,000 for the special election in February – instead of the School District waiting to put this on the ballot in April when they know there will be a higher voter turnout – which is what they are trying to avoid.  This $120,000 would employ 2 ½ more teachers! 

I am friends with several teachers that live and teach in our school district.  This is certainly not meant to anger them, nor our school principal.  However, I think the whole truth needs to be put out there – not the grossly exaggerated advertising the School District seems to be actively allowing to happen.  

I think if we institute “activity fees” and/or “transportation fees” for school activities like: football, soccer, band, strings, AIM and ASPIRE, science club, etc. (making them self-sustaining, it is a much more responsible way for the School District to handle funds instead of this proposed 89 cent levy.  

John Plaas, I applaud you in being able to sift through all of the smoke screen and think into the future when you voted no for this increased levy.  

I want to also thank attorney Marshall, and all of the others residents and business owners who are totally for our School District, and have worked so hard in gathering the actual facts.


  1. valie robbins says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 16:25
    Marlene, this is outstanding detective work! Thank you for sifting through all of these numbers. I had heard through a several people that the district wasn't presenting the entire story. I also know of a number of jobs that will be impacted if this passes. Look at the number of empty commercial properties in this town now - we certainly don't need more.
    Also this April, I want to encourage everyone to vote for John Plaas - since he was the only one on the school board to question this tax levy and vote no.
    Enough is Enough!
  2. Anthony Motta says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 16:35
    Excellent article. Mr. Plaas was one of the two voters from the R7 School Board who cast votes on the Blackwell TIF. It also is worth noting the Blue Springs R4 School District which operates with a much smaller levy continues to excel in academics, sports and music programs with no talk of needing to increase its operating levy. Maybe it’s time for the R7 Administration to have an "in-service training day" with the Blue Springs R4 Administration.
  3. Becky Peterson says:
    January 29th, 2011 at 23:18
    Marlene, great job!! Thank you for all the details. I agree with you and am so glad you put it out here so plainly. Going to post your article for my friends. I sure hope the voters make a mighty roar!!
  4. Kevin Knapp says:
    January 30th, 2011 at 18:00
    John Plaas for R7 school board president! That took tremendous courage to stand up against what I'm sure was significant pressure to fall in line and support a 15% tax levy increase. Very thoughtful article Marlene!
  5. Sharra Morrow says:
    January 31st, 2011 at 02:35
    Sorry guys..I am opposing this school levy with all I have and will openly voice my opinion to whomever will listen..I have not had a raise in my social security for 2 years, in fact, just received notification that effective immediately, additional taxes will be deducted. Tell me how we're supposed to support such a school levy...have not had kids in school system since 1989..our taxes are already way too high. If passed, future residents will take a second look at the taxes and RUN like hell. Our taxes will increase over $1000 annually..when will it stop? Enough is enough!!
  6. John Simonds says:
    January 31st, 2011 at 16:29
    Thank you so much for this information. It seems this school district has found it can ask for money over and over again and because the great citizens of this district want the best for their kids, get everything they want. The sad fact is, most of us don't either have the time or have the knowledge to know where to go to dig this information up.
    My pet peeve is the fact the taxpayers are also footing the bill to build state of the art athletic complexes with just about everything the pro leagues have. I want our kids to have a good experience at school, but it's snowballed out of control and I am certain has drained money away from areas of much higher importance. Maybe it's time we begin to look at other models used around the world in which these activities have been privatized. I think we would also see these other models do not rely so heavily on overpaid administrators.
    I won't be able to vote in the election on the 9th, so I'm voting by absentee ballot. If this is your situation as well, I believe the office in Independence will be open this Saturday as well as during normal business hours during the rest of the week.
    John Simonds
  7. valie robbins says:
    January 31st, 2011 at 23:49
    I just read the rebuttal at You really never addressed the issue that if this tax levy passes - Lees Summit will be paying 23% higher taxes than even Blue Valley. My question is why are other districts able to fund their award winning programs on obviously cheaper budgets than Lees Summit? Same with Blue Springs - their taxes aren't as high as ours.
    Enough is Enough!
  8. valie robbins says:
    February 1st, 2011 at 00:37
    I just visited You still can not articulate to anyone why the citizens of Lees Summit have been and will continue to pay significantly more for our school district than similar award winning schools, like Blue Valley or Blue Springs. All we hear is that we have to pay more for quality education, well these other districts have quality education comparable to ours but their taxes are a lot less. If this passes we will pay 23% higher taxes than Blue Valley. It would seem to me with this multimillion dollar, award winning administration that we keep hearing about, our taxes should be less.
  9. Frank Drebin says:
    February 1st, 2011 at 05:38
    Excellent article! I wanted to comment on the timing of this levy. It stinks! Jack Wiley, vice president, Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education claims the decision to put this levy on a Feb ballot is not about taking advantage of low voter turnout. In a letter to the editor, Jack states “If the district had waited until April to hold the election, our staff would have lost a full 60 days of planning time by not knowing how much money was available, how many teachers will be employed, which programs will be reduced, etc. It would have made planning for the upcoming school year very difficult and the students would be the ones hurt in the process. Additionally, if we had placed the levy on the April ballot and it was defeated, teachers facing elimination would be forced to look for jobs long after most districts have already filled open positions for next year. If the levy fails on the February ballot, at least those teachers will have time to apply for positions in other districts before all of the openings are filled.”
    I’m disturbed that Jack is foolish enough to think I’m that stupid! Passing this levy is ALL about the timing. But let’s face it, with 2,500 school district employees (and their significant others), some Armageddon scare tactics and a typical low voter turnout in February, the district does have a huge advantage in numbers and they know it. Never mind the fact that it will cost us taxpayers $120,000 for this special election!
    If I take the School Board (Jack) at their word and go with the thought process that this decision was made solely for the purpose of gaining 60 days of planning, then I have to question their fiduciary decision to spend $120,000 when they are coming to me with their outstretched tin cup. Couldn’t the administration create two sets of plans – one if the levy passes and one if it doesn’t? If it’s all about planning time, why couldn’t this levy have been on last November’s ballot and given everyone an additional 3 months to plan? It’s not like the district didn’t know it was going to ask for this levy. I heard about it early last year.
    Oh, where are the FOOLS (Friend’s out of Lee’s Summit) banners, billboards, signs, mailers, full-page newspaper ads and promotional flyers this time around? The absence of the FOOLS propaganda affirms my position that the powers-that-be thought they could keep this levy low-key and slip it right on by the taxpayer. The small group of FOOLS scratches the back of the district by spending tens of thousands of dollars promoting the “No tax increase” bonds and levy’s and in return the school district rubber stamps the Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Transportation Development Districts (TDD) and the like which help line the pockets of the business owners, but provide little or no school district funds until the TIF bonds are paid off many years down the road. For this election, the best way the FOOLS can help the school district is to keep things on the down-low to help suppress voter turnout. The TDD and TIF discussion is for another day, but it does have a roll in all of this. We are a bedroom community and our 80% residential tax base is way out of whack, so until we get some additional commercial development and business in Lee’s Summit to take on some of that tax burden, it falls on the shoulders of the homeowners.
    The school district underestimated the public awareness and now the (small, rehashed group of self-designated civic protectors) is scrambling to quell the uprising. I have a feeling you might start seeing some additional “Vote Yes” signs popping up around the city now that the cat is out of the bag. I have children in the district and obviously want the best for them, but I too am appalled at the LS R-7 tactics! So, on the principal that the end doesn’t justify the means, I guess that’s a NO vote for me.
    Frank Drebin
  10. Jesse Bechtold says:
    February 3rd, 2011 at 02:03
    Realtytrac reports 80 Lee's Summit homes went into foreclosure in December, 69 in November. That is 149 of our neighbors who lost their homes in two months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' preliminary unemployment rate for Lee's Summit in December is 8.2%, the highest since at least 2000. For them this levy increase is not about one less dinner at a restaurant each month. KCPL has a 15% increase in rates pending for May, gas is knocking on $3.00 per gallon, this summer it is expected to reach $3.25. MGE raised natural gas rates 25% last summer. People in Lee's Summit are losing their homes and jobs, please stop talking about one dinner per month. My pocket is getting tired.
    Artificial turf and aquatic centers come from bonds vs operating levies so they are different "pockets"? Really??? They both come from my pocket, that is as disingenious as the "no tax increase bond issues".
    We pay property taxes to the Metropolitan Community Colleges, they now have an underutilized aquatics center. My pocket is getting tired.
    You will cut strings budgets? Fine, I already drive my daughter to competitions, district rehearsals, I buy her competition music, I buy her instruments, I pay for her private lessons...what will you cut? Notwithstanding, I would prefer to pay user fees, then the cost of my daughters' extracurricular activities are not paid by the unemployed/underemployed because, remember, they are losing their homes.
    We are being asked to replace state money with a levy. What happens when the State's economy recovers and more funds are available for the schools? Will we get a roll back of our levy? I suspect not.
    I, too, find the timing of this election to be suspect. Yes, I hear the reasons, but sometimes the appearance is overwhelmingly more convincing than the words. Honestly, I feel the District and the levy supporters have been very patronizing of me. I get the impression they just assume I will vote yes because they say it is important. That feeling started with the information meeting where Dr. McGeehee gave a briefing but no questions were taken from the audience. You just told us what you want us to know and our questions are not important.
    Not this time, enough is enough.
  11. Cindy says:
    February 3rd, 2011 at 15:35
    Thank yo,u thank you, thank you !!!!!! You said exactly what I have been thinking. I agree with everything you said and I hope others will take the time to read your message and be open minded. I also think that if our teachers were to think like LS citizens, they too would agree with our concerns. I do believe they have been a little brain washed and scared by the district administrators. If LS is such a great district then we should be able to pull together, think outside the box and find ways to continue giving the best education to our children without having to constantly raise our (already too high) taxes. Let's get creative LS. Get more parents involved !!!!!!!!! Maybe some retired teachers would like to volunteer their time for some of the activities that might suffer from the cuts. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX LEES SUMMIT !!!!!
  12. John Q Public says:
    February 7th, 2011 at 01:26
    This is a great article and will hopefully grow into a serious dialog with the issues facing the District.
    At this point my major concern is one of trust. How can the District continually refer to one set of bond issues as "no tax" increase, implying somehow they are therefore "free"? They must realize that people think that and are therefore inclined to vote for it. What this really means is that the district is going to incur a debt, which must be paid, and it is going to be paid for with tax dollars. The money will not come out of thin air. For the District to mass market it to the citizens implying there will be no tax effect is simply not genuine, and also begins to make one wonder what other tricks and half truths are being put forth.
    Another troubling issue is the whole "two buckets" rigamarole. This is the one where we are told the capital improvements budget is always apparently overflowing with money and they literally have to invent ways to spend it (Such as robotics labs, Astroturf, and incredible glass buildings), but the operating budget is always in the red and in a crisis mode. This again seems to be an invented situation exploited by half-truths and convenient omissions of fact.
    Perhaps if the district would let a few of these no tax increase bond issues expire and not simply invent new ways to spend money, the taxpayers of Lees Summit would regain trust that the district is just not on some sort of spending spree with borrowed money.
    Perhaps if just a few of these past "no-tax" bond issues had not been brought forth, is it not true that the District could have had some of it's debt retired by now, and then there could have been an option now, when we really need it, to have it brought into the general operating fund?
    If some of the OLD DEBT could ever actually get retired and not replaced with NEW DEBT, it seems the District would have some options or at least some clout with the taxpayers. It seems the District would instead like to just have as much money a they can get, and the effect is that we are getting eaten alive with taxes, yet not the slightest amount of remorse or shame from those burdening us.
    The other large trust issue is that the amount of marketing that seems to be performed by school employees, using school resources, on school time. Each time an issue comes up, the district bombards us with printed flyers brought home by the kids, robocalls, emails, and sometimes even feature length professional videos displayed during school events. How much money is being spent on the materials for this? How many employees are spending their time doing this instead of educating our children?
    The District will explain that this activity is allowed under law, as they are merely stating facts, and not "technically" trying to get you to vote any certain way. Ask yourself, honestly, after seeing anything they have produced or said, are they truly trying to educate you, or are they blatantly trying to manipulate your opinion?
    Times are tough--people are literally losing their jobs, losing their homes each day. Many people lucky enough to still have a job have taken 20% or more pay cuts and have lost many of their coworkers to layoffs, and their retirements and 401K's are also obliterated.
    It is not fair for the District and employees of the District to lay a guilt trip on the citizens and make them out to be "the bad guys" or not school friendly. How many school bond issues have been defeated in the past 15 years? I cant think of ANY. The citizens of Lees Summit have given so much over the years. No one is asking anyone in the District to go through anything that they themselves, their friends and families themselves have not gone through.
    I would urge everyone to vote NO on this tax increase. Throwing more money at the situation is not the answer. We can then get an actual citizens based committee together to explore ALL the options, nothing off the table, and come up with a viable solution.
  13. Brianna says:
    February 7th, 2011 at 15:33
    Excellent comment, John Q. Public. I agree that many people are mislead about the "no-tax increase" bond issues. It is never made clear that our taxes will decrease if the measure doesn't pass. I'm curious hom much lower our taxes would be if those didn't pass.
    I'm also frustrated about all the flyers, emails, and phone calls I have gotten from the district on this levy issue. They are clearly using a lot of resources to get their message across.
  14. Jane Q Public says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 02:55
    The polls have closed and as we all wait for the results, one thing, to me, is clear. Whether you are for or against this levy, the issue was not properly handled by the district or the Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) that made the decision to put this on the ballot. As a longtime resident of this city and supporter of this school district - it makes me ashamed and dismayed. Here's some reasons why: instead of a true open forum meeting with citizens, the superintendent and CAC put several members of the CAC in front of the relatively few citizens that showed up for the informational meeting to speak (which was good) but did not allow questions from the group (which was bad). Nothing was ever published or commented on regarding what kind of written feedback was received (the only feedback allowed), who reviewed it, nor was there any response from the district regarding this feedback. In addition, I shuddered during this meeting, when I heard one of the CAC's spokesperson tell us that, really, for most of us the cost of this levy amounts to a family eating out once a month. If that was the only expense that increased for many families over the past few years during this economic crisis, perhaps we could agree. Let's face it - there are real families in Lee's Summit that are hurting. Gas prices have gone up; groceries have gone up; insurance premiums, deductibles and copays have gone up and along with that health care costs; utilities have risen and are about to rise again so we hear from our utility companies. All this, along with the fact that many families have lost jobs temporarily or permanently, or if they are lucky have merely had to survive without pay raises the past years while trying to meet all the rising costs mentioned above. There are few people who haven't been affected by this or know someone who has. Apparently the only ones who haven't are those people on the CAC because many of them kept repeating this same mantra "it's merely the cost of a dinner out." How elitist does that sound? Additionally, whether what the CAC and the district said about the timing of the ballot is true, putting a single issue to a vote in the middle of winter just looks bad on the surface. The CAC and district should have expected this and instead dealt with whatever consequences they say would have occurred by putting this on an April ballot. It would be interesting to know when or if this issue was put to a vote within the CAC group and how many voted for putting it to a public vote and how many voted against it. My point is, whether it's true or not, the feeling among many, is that the CAC has become just a "yes" man for the district and there is a great deal of mistrust towards them from the community. How many of the CAC members, for example are paid employees of the district? I'm sorry, but when paid district employees are on a committee that makes these kinds of decisions for the entire city, well that smacks of a conflict of interest. While school district employees’ input should be allowed, welcomed and considered, it should not be as acting members of this committee – they cannot possibly be objective. Nor would I expect them to be. They want to keep their jobs, their programs alive. I struggled with which way I was going to vote on this issue up until the time I casted my vote this morning. My reason for writing this is not to say what was the correct vote – my reason for writing this is to share my concern with how this whole thing was handled and that my respect and admiration for school district personnel and the CAC has gone down several notches. The way it was handled has succeeded in dividing a community that for a long time, has almost unanimously supported this school district.
  15. Steve Hill says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 17:55
    Excellent article! Thank you so much for presenting this unbiased opinion!!
  16. Greg says:
    February 9th, 2011 at 20:29
    I wish the rest of Lees SUmmit would pay attention to what goes on by our school district and our city government. Not only are we taxed too much, we dont get the value of what we pay taxes for. I urge every taxpayer in LS to notice what goes on around them by the school district, city workers and employees. RAISE HELL ABOUT IT! They are all paid by our taxes. Ever wonder why there are so few city jobs out there......I suggest you watch the street department workers hold up shovels. Ive noticed more and more of them can balance a broom and shovel better than Barnum and Bailey clowns. We actually pay them to drive around on "slow days" to pick up trash, tires, mushroom hunt and watch deer out around Longview and Jacomo. Its sad but true...what has 4 wheels and sleeps three??? A city truck!!! And while Im on the soap box here a minute.....Dear Police Officer....get off the phone while your driving. I have to pay for that and you cant drive any safer than I can.
  17. John Q Public says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 04:57
    Excellent point Jane Q.
    I am sure that in most of their hearts they believe they are thinking independently and in the best interests of educating students. But if the membership of the CAC is largely made up of current and former employees of the district, their families, friends, or other people with a financial stake in the outcome of a vote, it is a huge problem and needs to be remedied before ANY future recommendations can be taken at face value.
    If the District is going to constantly tout that they are merely acting on the advise of a supposedly independent and unbiased CAC, it should be a TRULY INDEPENDENT AND UNBIASED CAC!
  18. Robert says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 03:18
    lsmom1981-no one ever responded to my comments on the affect the tax increase would have on those families already going through financial struggles. My comments were always ignored and brushed aside. I always listened with an open mind to arguments for the levy. Somehow, the discussion of families with financial hardships was not important. No one person on the CAC or levy supporters who wrote comments to the Tribune ever addressed that concern or responded to my comments. That told me the individuals that sit on the CAC and supported the levy didn't care about those families with financial hardships, retirees on fixed incomes or individuals who have lost everything. This helped me stand firm on voting no on the levy. You can't ignore the fact that this economy has had a very negative affect on all of us, worse for others. I have said it several times and I will say this again. The school district, a public entity funded by taxes, is made up of public servants here to provide a service to us-the taxpayers of this district. A public servant has a position of trust and responsibility. No one in public service should ever feel as if they are owed anything. It is extremely annoying to see how quickly the taxpayer is taken for granted and ignored. Somehow some public servants forget who is picking up the tab. The same with the CAC, somehow it seems as if this group forgot who is picking up the tab.......any comments?
  19. Robert says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 04:25
    lsmom1981 and levy supporters-We do have residents in this city that would have had to sacrifice in order to pay the increase. What happens in a local economy when taxes are increased has an adverse affect on everyone. You start to see a slow, but gradual increase in tax delinquincies. Those individuals that are just getting by, decide not to pay real estate taxes because of salary cuts, increases in out of pocket medical copays or worse-job loss. Businesses that depend on local residents, start to see a gradual decline in patronage. Smaller businesses start to cut back until their doors are closed. Have you been to Summit Fair lately? It winds up, the school district may not see the anticipated increase in tax revenues after the first year. The district winds up back at square one-lost revenue at a much higher rate. The district winds up having to make cuts again, but this time a school or schools are closed. Most have told me this could never happen here in our back yard. I have worked for municipal government for over thirty years-I have seen this happen. It isn't just about the nation and job loss. It's about our local economy. Neighboring cities such as Grain Valley, Belton, Blue Springs and even Jackson County has laid off employees within the last year. Believe it or not these people pay taxes too. This is one reason why a levy in a economic downturn doesn't work. You wind up loosing what little stability you have.