Executives from architectural and engineering firms made the largest donations to the group supporting Sedgwick County Unified School District 259’s successful effort to pass a $370 million general obligation bond referendum in November. The GOs passed by a narrow 51% margin.
Two groups opposing the bond issue reported combined contributions of $209,000, $22,000 more than was raised by the successful proponents.
The pro-bond Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education raised $187,000 for the effort, far short of its $400,000 fund-raising goal. The group said it spent about $25,000 on polling.
The household of an executive with Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, the school district’s facilities consulting firm, gave the largest single contribution of almost $14,000. The company also provided in-kind contributions of $15,350.
A construction equipment rental firm and an executive at a construction firm each provided contributions of at least $10,000.
Anti-bond group Citizens for Better Education raised about $172,000. Records filed with the Sedgwick County elections office show that the biggest donations came from local developers and businesspeople. The largest donation included $18,000 from Murfin Drilling Co. and $17,000 from Sandlian Realty.
Wichitans for Effective Education, which also opposed the bond issue, said it raised approximately $37,000, with $10,000 coming from Citizens for Better Education and $8,000 from the Kansas Taxpayers Network.
The district, which serves the city of Wichita, has a current enrollment of almost 49,000 students. The district’s GOs have underlying ratings of Aa3 from Moody’s Investors Service and AA from Standard & Poor’s.
Groups raising money to support or defeat bond issues in Kansas do not have to register with the state Governmental Ethics Commission, and there are no limits on how much money a single donor can give. A list of donors during the year must be provided by Dec. 31 to the county election commission.