As Jim Dye of the News-Gazette said this morning, it is a very tough choice to vote “NO” or “YES” on the April 7th $144 million referendum item; there are major deficiencies on both sides of the fence, as well as really good points in favor of each side. As a voter, it is easy to have doubts one way or the other.
But the clincher for me happened yesterday at noon while I was driving near Prospect and Bradley. There is a very large billboard with the KCC (Keep Central Central) “Vote NO” ad. When I saw that, my mind was made up. That sign alone is responsible for catapulting me solidly over in to the YES camp. Why? Aside from my distaste for billboards in general, I personally view this particular ad as a colossal waste of money; if you care so much about public education, put your money where your mouth is.
If anyone spots a YES billboard around town, let me know before April 7th. :)
I encourage you to go read Jim Dye’s editorial this morning:
I would disagree with Mr. Dye on at least one point:
“the school district has put together a plan that’s about as good as it can under the circumstances.”
First I would give credit to many (many) people who have put in a ton of effort to this very end; a lot of folks have spent hours upon hours going over different alternatives, not just for a high school location, but also what to fix up, remodel, and renovate. I also give credit to some of the efforts in engaging the community in so-called “dialogues” or “discussions”, which opened the door to greater community involvement. But the current plan is as good as it gets “under the circumstances”? No, I don’t think so; no charrettes, no truly open public deliberation, no phased planning (all one lump sum, with everything else being deferred until 1% sales tax money is freed up). Instead, we have had a number of very vocal people come to the table again and again. I am also told that when the architects went to deliver the bad news to Centennial staff about the abrupt change in referendum dollars, they (the HS staff) were none too happy. Obviously the Dr. Howard folks are happy, the Centennial folks not so much. The changes for Centennial still do not make a lot of sense to me. But this is as good as it gets (“under the circumstances”)? I cannot swallow that.
We could go down the list of sins committed by either camp, and then match that up with the very valid and good points made by each side as well. In my mind, it turns into a zero-sum game, which I believe will be evidenced by the results on April 7th with a fairly close vote again. As I have said in the past, my hope is for a super-majority vote to agree one way or the other. Otherwise I would contend that we have failed to build consensus.
But what pisses me off the most are the political shenanigans and the underhanded tricks in both camps; the billboard was the last straw. That really needs to end on April 7th. And I truly believe that many of the school board candidates will help do that.
I like how Mr. Dye concludes his article (next to last paragraph):
“All that aside, however, it’s important the public meets its responsibility to fund a school system that provides all students an opportunity to learn and be successful.”
Or as Dr. Edna Olive of Rocket, Inc says:
“(t)he education and support of children is some of the world’s most important work.”
Ultimately, voters have to decide for themselves if a $144 million bond referendum fulfils the goal of funding such a school system. I already know several of you readers fall on one side of that question or the other.