Making Democracy Work

Local League Positions in Depth

Local Positions in Depth

EDUCATION -- Wichita Public Schools

1. The League of Women Voters, Wichita-Metro supports equal access to quality education for all students. In order to provide quality education for ALL students, USD 259 must provide the means to meet students' needs by offering basic uniformity in grade school curriculum: it should be taught in diverse ways in order to address differing student abilities. At the secondary level, there should be required courses in Liberal Arts with a variety of electives including those in Vocational Education.

To facilitate implementation of curriculum, the League supports:

  • Consistent remediation for students beginning at the primary levels;
  • Effective use of school time;
  • Achievement level grouping of students in some subject areas and chronological grouping in other areas.

(Clarifications:

  • "CURRICULUM" refers to the subject matter, materials used, and the manner in which it is taught, course objectives, text and time allotments.
  • The term "ABILITIES" includes measurable differences such as mental and physical handicaps, non-proficiency in the English language and also encompasses special talents and allows for varying ways of learning.
  • "LIBERAL ARTS" includes literature, history, language, geography, mathematics, science, social science and the arts.
  • "CONSISTENCY" is defined as system-wide and applicable to all students.
  • Effective USE OF TIME is of greater importance than the number of hours spent in school.)
[Adopted May 19, 1984]

2. The League supports smaller classes and a greater number of professional personnel to work with children who have problems in the early elementary grades in order to prevent some of the problems of students at the secondary level. [Adopted December 13, 1973; Updated Feb. 1985]

The League supports the office of ombudsperson [Adopted Feb. 19, 1985]

3. The Wichita League of Women Voters supports the position of providing the best qualified personnel for the Wichita School District;

  • Hiring, retention and rewarding of all district personnel should be consistent and based on valid and observable criteria.
  • The criteria used by the school district for hiring and evaluating personnel should be available to the public.
  • Standardized testing of students should be maintained for the comparison of school systems nationwide.
  • Student test scores should not be the sole basis for evaluating teachers or schools.
[Adopted December 21, 1984]

4. The League of Women Voters - Wichita Metro supports the following public school budget priorities: A. The League supports teacher salaries as the number one budget priority. Salary increases should reward performance that is evaluated on the basis of consistent, valid, and observable criteria. Other employee salaries should compare favorably with local compensation rates.

B. Facilities should be maintained in an economical manner to assure adequate conditions. [Adopted Feb. 19, 1985]

  • Climate control should be achieved with well maintained systems and all schools in the district should be upgraded as needed to provide similar control of the thermal environment.
  • Energy efficiency and air quality should be considered in renovations and new construction.
  • Facilities should support the curriculum at all grade levels.
  • Renovations and new construction should both take into account allowing changing uses of classrooms over time.
  • All classrooms should be linked by appropriate technology to local building administration, to district created and selected resources and to resources beyond the district.
  • Safety and security for persons and supplies should be taken into account in facilities construction, maintenance and usage.
  • Temporary buildings such as portable classrooms are not considered adequate for the long term.
  • The school district should have a long range facilities plan.
[Adopted Feb. 3, 2000]

Funding priorities: refer to State Finance positions.

The League supports purchasing quality merchandise at the lowest cost. We also support a workable and efficient inventory control system. (In 1985, a problem in the area of inventory control was indicated.)

The League supports the employment of an internal auditor to monitor expenditures and adherence to school district policies. [Adopted Feb. 19, 1985]

5. The League of Women Voters of Wichita supports alternative education at the elementary, Junior High and Senior High Levels in the city of Wichita.

Alternative programs/schools should have the following characteristics:

  • The teaching of basic academic skills should receive a major emphasis;
  • Racial and socio-economic balance should be achieved;
  • Class size (or groupings) should be small;
  • Development of a good self-concept and self-discipline in children should be stressed;
  • Enrollment should be voluntary for students and staff;
  • Transportation should be provided for all students in alternative schools.

The League of Women Voters of Wichita believes that parents and students have certain rights. Parent rights include knowing the philosophies, teaching methods, and objectives of a particular teacher. Student rights include the right to the kind and style of learning to which he or she best responds, to develop at her or his rate and to her or his fullest potential, and to have problems screened and diagnosed at an early age.

The League further supports community awareness of alternative education and initiation at the "grassroots" level (parents and community) with professional help in development of these programs. [Adopted September 25, 1975; Updated Feb., 1985]

6. The League supports mandatory busing and assignment of pupils as a partial solution to segregation in housing and unequal conditions in neighborhood schools. Selection should be made on a fair and impartial basis for all segments of the community.

The public should be educated to create community acceptance. Teachers and administrators should be educated to increase sensitivity in handling racial and socio-economic problems. The education of all children must be improved.

Support, as a long-range solution, of a strong, workable, vigorously enforced local fair-housing law.

All new schools should be located strategically to achieve a realistic racial and socioeconomic balance. [Adopted October 29, 1970; Updated Feb., 1985]

7. The League supports the increased use of school facilities with a fee schedule to cover the costs of operations. [Adopted Nov. 21, 1967; Updated Feb., 1985]


DISTRICT ELECTIONS - BOARD OF EDUCATION

The League of Women Voters, Wichita-Metro opposes district elections for USD Board of Education Members for the following reasons:

  1. District elections limit the choice of candidates to confines of geography.
  2. District elections do not guarantee minority/diversity representation.
  3. Districting could ghettoize elections.
  4. District elections represent a step backward for desegregation in our community.
  5. District elections promote gerrymandering.
  6. District elections politicize the process.
  7. District elections find some areas with a glut of potential candidates and other districts with few, if any candidates to run.
  8. District elections reduce the political clout of each voter.
  9. District elections make the board members feel only accountable to their particular district.
  10. District elections fragment cooperation among members.

[Adopted April 1990]

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

GOVERNMENT
Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive to all citizens, efficient, and that protects individual liberties.

CITY MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT
LWVWM supports the Commission/Manager form as the most efficient and economical form presently available. It follows the sensible rule: for representation, elect; for administration, appoint. The City Commission should be small, elected at large on a non-partisan ballot.

The City Commission could devote more time to policy-making matters if efficient use were made of advisory boards. The responsibility for good government resides in the will of the people.

[Adopted Jan. 16, 1968]

DISTRICT ADVISORY BOARDS
The LWV Wichita-Metro supports permanent citizen district advisory boards to advise each individual city council member on policy matters. The boards should have a mandate to provide a public forum for citizen input to council members on a broad range of issues and a mandate to be a channel of information between the city council and the public. The city council should regularly evaluate the boards as a whole for effectiveness in communicating information of use and of interest to their districts as well as the other means of communication the city has.

Appointment by a council person is an acceptable way to select members of the district advisory boards as long as the members are selected to reflect the demographics of the respective city council areas.

The District Advisory Boards instituted in January 2000 as well as the City Council should be monitored to be sure the current practice of election of City Council members by district with each council person appointing a district advisory board doesn=t override the good of the city as a whole.

[Adopted March 19, 2002]

CITY/COUNTY COOPERATION
Support of permissive legislation which would allow increased inter-governmental cooperation.

Support of consolidation in areas of law enforcement which would eliminate unnecessary duplication, increase efficiency, and promote a more professional operation.

Support of the concept of an organization (such as the South Central Kansas Regional Council of Governments) which furthers cooperation of local governments in the solution of mutual problems.

[Adopted Jan. 28, 1965]

LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION/CONSOLIDATION
Local Government should be effective, accountable, efficient and accessible and deliver public service equitably to the taxpayers at the lowest possible cost. The current patchwork of 104 jurisdictions in Sedgwick county creates duplication of services, citizen confusion, tax inequities, dilution of leadership, and generates a bunker mentality of we versus they.

A united voice is needed for lobbying at the state and federal level and for attracting business ventures. Urban sprawl is blurring boundaries and creating a need for more services. As public services become more technical, expensive and specialized in nature, larger population areas are needed to adequately fund public services.

THEREFORE the League of Women Voters, Wichita-Metro supports the cooperation of city and county through consolidation of departments and services whenever feasible.

The League also supports consolidation of city and county into one county-wide government under the following conditions:

  • any consolidation plan should try to maximize the efficient distribution and delivery of public services and resources; the accessibility, responsiveness and accountability of public officials and the fairness of taxation and spending.

  • the establishment of taxing districts should take into account the different needs of the communities within Sedgwick County.

  • All communities should have equal representation in the metropolitan government and have the option to opt out of the consolidation plan.

[Adopted May 4, 1999]

COUNTY GOVERNMENT
The League of Women Voters of Wichita believes that citizen participation and involvement in Sedgwick County Government should be improved. We support specifically:

  1. Appointment of an information or grievance officer.
  2. Publication of proposed resolutions in the large Wichita papers.
  3. Television coverage of commission meetings.
  4. Publication of county commission's agendas in the large Wichita papers.
  5. Codification of all county resolutions.
  6. Encouragement of greater citizen attendance at county commission meetings.
  7. Better education of citizens on county government.

The League supports the appointment, rather than the election of these Sedgwick County officials; Register of Deeds, Treasurer, and County Clerk.

Support the cooperation of city and county government through joint funding and decision-making of consolidated departments and through joint appointments to the respective citizens' advisory boards.

[Adopted Feb. 1978]

CITY GOVERNMENT/HUMAN RESOURCES
The LWVW believes there should be some kind of an advisory board dealing with human resources. This advisory board should be funded locally if necessary and should include citizen participants.

No optimum size for the Human Resources Board was agreed upon, but low-income and minorities must be represented.

Board operations should be improved through mandatory training.

There should be a closer relationship among the city commission, city manager, and the Human Resources Board, but there were no ideas on how this should be done.

It was agreed that food, shelter, and health services should be available to low-income groups. In order to achieve these, employment, job training, and education are basic. Trash service assistance was considered important.

[Adopted Dec. 19, 1981]

CITY/COUNTY GOVERNMENT/HEALTH
The LWV strongly supports all present services of the Health Dept. and would not like to see any present services deleted, especially health stations and clinics.

Concern for the present shrinkage of funds overrode considerations of additional services. If fiscal conditions change, support was expressed for expanded health education, alcohol/family counseling program, a home accident program, and more preventative health services and data analysis.

The State of Kansas should fully support the state mandated programs. The present level of state support (3.4%) should be increased.

The County should restore cuts in health services and eliminate duplication of functions of the joint department, such as animal control and environment.

Since the County is an important source for funding, the professional administration of the department should be shielded from political pressures.

[Adopted Feb. 20, 1982]

LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
LWVWM believes that government services are vital to the quality of life. We find the current level and mix of government services adequate and we believe that cuts in these services would be detrimental to the welfare of the community.

We also feel that additional revenue is necessary to maintain adequate services. Rather than raise property taxes under current assessment practices, we would support the creation of alternative revenue sources including a sales tax, a wheel tax, an intangibles tax, and charges of county residents for city services.

In addition, the League strongly supports city-county cooperation, consolidation of services where feasible, and any other measures that could improve efficient delivery of local government services.

[Adopted October 1982]


LOCAL GOVERNMENT TRAFFIC PATTERNS/STREETS
The LWVWM believes that through effective planning and management of Wichita's street construction, repair, and maintenance projects, the city can make most efficient use of its resources.

The League supports development of an integrated system to coordinate and prioritize street repair and maintenance. Such a system should provide for the efficient scheduling of routine maintenance, based on the projected life span of the street, as well as allow response to emergency situations.

The League believes the current procedure for developing construction is adequate.

The League believes the current procedure for developing the Capital Improvement Plan with regard to street construction is adequate.

The League proposes the implementation of a formal policy and procedure to address changes to the C.I.P. This would include provisions for periodic review and examination of the plan to ensure its current viability. The C.I.P. should also be reviewed when considering new development, to ensure such development is compatible with the long range plan.

[Adopted January 1986]


City Services - Local Library System
The League of Women Voters of Wichita supports the current library board system of libraries for Wichita, Kansas. Improvements in the Library System must continue. Sedgwick County Government should financially support the Wichita System of Libraries on an annual basis.

[Adopted February 1988]


CONSENSUS OF STUDY OF PLAN 2000 / WI/SE PARTNERSHIP FOR GROWTH

The League of Women Voters, Wichita-Metro supports the concept of WI/SE Partnership for Growth and PLAN 2000 based on present knowledge based on the length of existence and information available, but members did not reach a consensus on specific agenda items.

The following suggestions and concerns were expressed and should be noted:

  1. WI/SE should have a more heterogeneous membership (ex: women and minorities).
  2. Perhaps there should be better scrutinization of funds of contributing governmental bodies.
  3. An increase in professional, paid staff might produce more definite results.
  4. What direction in BEST going?
  5. LWVWM should definitely be involved with WI/SE via observers.

[Adopted April, 1992]

SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL

The LWVW believes solid waste management should be a universal governmental service, similar to police and fire protection.

A comprehensive solid waste management system should be implemented in Wichita as soon as possible. As the metropolitan area grows, a regional system should be introduced to deal with problems of pick-up, recycling, and disposal.

Any system devised should include the following provisions:

1. Governmental responsibility for financing of solid waste control. Cost of this service should be distributed over the entire population.

2. Steps by local government to make solid waste management more efficient and thereby economical. The League suggests:

    (a) Steps to end duplication of collection routes.
    (b) Strict enforcement of ordinances dealing with trash hauling vehicles.
    (c) Bags placed at the curb on collection days.
    (d) Collection of bulky waste available without extra cost to the house-holder.

3. Recycling and re-use of materials should be strongly encouraged by government. The League suggests:

    (a) Separation of wastes at the source before pick-up.
    (b) Development of a local market for re-cycled materials.
[Adopted May 25, 1972]

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Definition of Sustainable Community Development

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Focus

Wichita is not isolated from its neighbors; essentially, it is part of broader geographical, economic, political, social and cultural environments. As a result, the people of Wichita and Sedgwick County should recognize that they have responsibilities to the communities beyond their environs. Thus, this statement reflects not only the special characteristics of Wichita and Sedgwick County more broadly, but the entire region. A commitment to such a "global" perspective is essential in today's increasingly interconnected world.

Sustainable Development Goals

Related to Wichita, Sedgwick County, and future communities as they develop in the expanding metropolitan community:

  1. Support for development with emphasis on pedestrian friendly communities and quality public spaces;

  2. Support for land use planning practices that create and maintain efficient infrastructure, ensure close-knit neighborhoods and sense of community, and preserve natural systems;

  3. Support growth, planning and development that assure a high quality of life for future generations.

  4. Support preservation and improvement of the core of Wichita - its downtown business district, its historic buildings, its older residential neighborhoods, and its social and cultural services;

  5. Support diversity of housing for all income levels, family sizes and individual abilities;

  6. Support conservation of energy and protection of natural resources;

  7. Support multiple modes of transportation for all persons regardless of age, ability or income level;

  8. Support inclusion of sustainability as a criterion in all planning documents and decision-making;

  9. Support for development initiatives that demonstrate provisions for achievement of sustainability in all planning documents and decision-making; and,

  10. Support timely and meaningful citizen participation in all planning and development decisions.

[Approved May 2006]

REDEVELOPMENT OF DOWNTOWN WICHITA

The LWVW supports the revitalization of Downtown Wichita as a major center for culture, finance, conventions, education and entertainment. We support shopping opportunities Downtown, but not as the major emphasis.

Support of the concept of a separate development plan for the Core Area*; however, guidelines should conform to major LWVUS Principles.

Support of a separate zoning ordinance for the CED** that would permit down-zoning where needed and tax incentives for rehabilitation.

Support of a tax base for the Downtown that is competitive with the outlying areas.

Support of the use of Tax Increment Financing for the development of the Downtown. The League would encourage the City Commission to focus the use of industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) on Downtown development and would encourage a Downtown Advisory Committee to evaluate the impact of IRB's on the Core Area.

Support of decreasing the amount of land zoned commercial in the Wichita area.

Support of the use of public funds for rent supplement and housing rehabilitation. The League would not support large public housing projects in the Center City***.

Support the use of public funds for Downtown Day Care Centers.

The League believes that the City of Wichita should raise the local matching funds in order to receive the available federal monies for an improved bus system.

Support of the use of satellite parking sites with shuttle buses to the Core Area. We would not encourage a ban on cars Downtown or a Downtown parking tax.

Support of an improved public bus service that would include evening hours, shorter head-ways and shelters. We encourage better public information designed to increase ridership.

  • *Core Area: The area bounded by the Santa Fe Railroad Tracks, Kellogg Ave., and the Big Arkansas River, and Central Ave.
  • **CED: Generally regarded as the center of commercial, office, and service activities. This area is bounded by Central Ave., St. Francis, Kellogg Ave. and the Big Arkansas River.
  • ***Center City: The area bounded by the Canal Route, Kellogg, Seneca St., and 9th St.

[Adopted Jan. 24, 1977]

ENERGY

The LWVW believes in the planning of an energy future for Wichita and its immediate environs.

Support education of the public on conservation methods. Voluntary and monetary incentives should be complemented by more mandatory conservation measures such as prescribed thermostat settings in public and commercial buildings, prohibition of open refrigerator units and reduction of commercial lighting displays and non-essential street lighting.

Support an energy mix to replace our reliance on natural gas. The emphasis should be on renewable, non-polluting sources of energy:

    1) solar for space and hot water heating
    2) solid waste conversion to help solve the energy problem and eliminate the need for ever-increasing landfill sites.
    3) maximum use of the naturally occurring underflow of the Arkansas River

Support the best use of all forms of energy by matching the type of fuel to the application.

Support decentralized systems for industrial complexes. Some industries are in close proximity and could share an energy source.

Support cooperation between government and industry. Government should research, educate, facilitate, fund pilot projects; business and industry should implement new energy systems with governmental encouragement, including tax incentives.

Support growth in Wichita in an energy-conscious manner.

LOCAL AIR QUALITY

LWV Wichita-Metro believes that air pollution poses both public health and economic problems in the Wichita area. Individual citizens must join government, business and industry in recognizing the problems caused by air pollution and taking action to reduce the current levels of pollution. The League considers it unacceptable for the Wichita-Metro area to move into non-attainment of Federal Air Quality Standards for both the health consequences and the economic costs to the community. Local Government should foster pride in attainment of air quality standards and use public recognition as an incentive to those who do succeed in reducing air pollution.

The League supports continuous local outdoor air quality monitoring as is currently done and also periodic inventories to determine current sources of outdoor air pollution.

The League believes local governments bear responsibility to inform and educate the public about the problem of air pollution in our area. We commend existing efforts and encourage increased efforts to educate about:

  • types and sources of pollution in local outdoor air
  • current air quality conditions (especially in seasons where pollutants approach non-attainment of federal standards)
  • effects of various types of air pollution on susceptible individuals
  • trends in types and levels of air pollution
  • trends in frequency of occurrence of respiratory diseases
  • economic consequences of non-attainment of Air Quality Standards (currently levels of ozone and particulates are increasing).

The League supports government policies and actions which encourage citizens, industries, businesses and governments to reduce emissions voluntarily.

Local governments are encouraged to:

A. Use mass media publicity campaigns to encourage individuals to:

  • car pool
  • keep vehicles well maintained and inspected for emissions
  • fill gas tanks in the evening when possible
  • walk, bicycle or use mass transit
  • mow lawns after 6 p.m.
  • check air-quality levels before outdoor activity if they have a respiratory problem;

B. Develop publicity campaigns to encourage individuals, businesses, industries and governments to:

  • keep equipment well maintained
  • use hybrid and alternative-fuels vehicles
  • use non-polluting processes.

The League believes local governments should:

  • Expand mass transit
  • Promote the design of new commercial and residential developments to be pedestrian and bike friendly
  • Improve traffic light coordination and traffic flow
  • Return to placing mobile emissions checking units around the community.

The League recognizes that local governments may have to institute mandates to meet air quality standards. If this becomes necessary, ordinances requiring vehicle inspections with requirements to bring vehicles up to standards and controls on area sources such as dry cleaners and gas stations should be considered.

Local governments should plan for adequate staff and equipment funding to monitor air pollution levels and to educate the public. If state and federal funds are not available local funds should be used.

Local governments should continue to employ a body such as the City of Wichita Air Quality Task Force to evaluate local and regional trends in air pollution. This is important to avoid the health and economic toll on the community which non-attainment would bring.

[Adopted May 11, 2004]

LAND USE

Local government has a responsibility to establish land usage policies which preserve the quality of life and the appearance of the city. Such policies should promote an orderly development of land use and community growth which balances the concerns of residential, commercial and industrial interests. The participation of all citizens of Wichita in the zoning process should be encouraged.

The city should actively shape the direction of future growth. Priority should be given to revitalization of existing areas (such as the downtown district) before expansion along the city's perimeter. Over-development of land should be discouraged. Developers should be required to finance initial land improvements and show projects feasibility.

There is a need for a new or revised zoning ordinance for the city of Wichita. The zoning ordinance should be more than define minimum standards. It should address but not be limited to:

  • aesthetics (i.e., landscaping, elimination of portable signs, etc.)
  • impact on or compatibility with surrounding uses
  • impact on public facilities
  • increase in traffic
  • maintenance of the residential character of neighborhoods
  • notification of proposed zoning changes within a wider impact area
  • consistency with a comprehensive land use plan.

The League supports enforcement of zoning through:

  • fines/penalties for non-compliance of an ordinance
  • improved monitoring of zoning infractions
  • a stricter review process for variances and exceptions with concise criteria and documentation required.

[Adopted February 1987]

AIDS Study

The League of Women Voters of Wichita-Metro supports:
  • HIV antibody testing for marriage license applicants to be * HIV antibody testing of convicted sex crime offenders.
  • the confidentiality of HIV antibody test results with enforcement.
  • the notification of sex partners of persons who test HIV positive.
  • reporting the names and identifying information of those who test HIV positive to the Secretary of Health.

[Adopted February 1989]

Resources

NATURAL RESOURCES
Promote an environment beneficial to life through the wise use of resources in the public interest.

HUMAN RESOURCES
Promote social justice by securing equal rights for all, combating discrimination and poverty, and providing equal access to housing, employment and education.

Transportation

LWV Wichita/Metro supports the implementation of a Rapid Transit System, with the metropolitan urban area of the City of Wichita, which would provide increased availability of public transportation fro all the citizens of the area, at an affordable cost. A successful plan would include increased scheduling, change to a grid system, and include a dedicated source of funding(sales tax). The LWV-Wichita-Metro supports a goal of increased ridership, lowered amount of automobiles on the road and improvement of air quality and lower street/highway construction costs through the implementation of an improved Rapid Transit/Transportation. Rapid Transit, as supported by the LWV-Wichita/Metro could include buses, rail, trolley and perhaps other forms of transportation and should be regional in scope.

[Adopted 2011]