Planning and study sessions were held leading up to a decision by the Washington Board of Education to go back to voters to seek approval of a bond issue to make physical plant improvements. A $49 million bond issue will be on the April 2013 ballot which would require a 25-cent property tax increase.
The new proposal has been scaled back from an earlier bond issue for $65 million and a 46-cent tax hike that voters rejected last April. It has been termed a compromise because it addresses the most needed improvements and is part of the district’s long-range plan. The new proposal does not include the building of a new elementary school or some renovation projects at Washington High School.
The proposal does call for construction of a new middle school that would provide space for grades six through eight on property the district owns to the east. It also includes an Early Childhood Center on the Washington West Elementary campus. Improvements also are in the proposal for some projects at the high school and at Marthasville Elementary, Augusta Elementary and wireless technology infrastructure districtwide.
There still are negative voters and volunteers will try to convince them of the need. There is a bloc of negative voters, however, that it will be impossible to reach so the task before the board and volunteers is to relate the needs to as many voters as possible, and urge them to vote and support the proposal. We include board members in the action group for the proposal. The board members should take an active role in the campaign. That’s part of their responsibilities. They should be visible in this campaign and help the volunteers. They have a role to play and should not sit back and delegate the entire campaign responsibilities to volunteers and the administration.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer and her assistants have tried to involve residents of the district in the planning process, with a degree of success, and she fulfilled her responsibility to bring the needs to the board for a decision on taking it to district patrons in an election.
There’s ample time for voters to learn the facts before the election is held. Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of voter apathy and too many people will not take the time to volunteer in the campaign, or to even learn what the facts are in the proposal.
There’s more at stake in this issue than just the well-being of the district. Education is a vital spoke in the wheel that is the community. It is one of the attributes by which a community is judged as to the level of quality of life that is present. The educational system is vital to give strength to a community’s basic structure.
All of us have an obligation to the community to not allow a crack in its foundation to go unchecked.