I recently read a post from our Snoqualmie Yahoo group where a member said he was throwing his school bond ballot in the garbage. It bummed me out. Made me wonder how many more people were following suit. It seems every recent school bond faced the low voter turnout battle – only 30-40%. Oppose it or support it, most agree it would be better to have a strong voter turnout. Great importance is placed on education, but when it comes to school bonds many voters go silent.
What’s the deal then? Are people just busy and forgetting? Could be. People have busy lives and work long hours outside of the valley. Not everyone has kids in public schools. Maybe they feel they aren’t informed enough so it’s better to not vote? A friend and involved person brought up another possibility. He points to doubt as a reason. I think this one is worth exploring. Maybe he hit the nail on the head. Is it really harder to believe in something than it is to doubt it? A thought to ponder…
My friend staunchly believes in this bond – in it’s concept and plan. He doesn’t blindly believe. He researched tons of information. He studied the stats and facts. He is not the type to “rubber stamp” any plan. He contributed some great points – things that might raise doubt and send school bond ballots into the recycle container. Here are some thoughts on those.
Doubt: “The developers should have to build schools.” Is this a realistic possibility? I don’t think so. Reality is land is extremely expensive to develop for construction. Reality is developers already contribute impact fees. In our case they contributed the land for the proposed school. Is it easier to blame the developers than to trust our school district as stewards of the money? Who really gets the short end of this doubt? Precisely. The kids we strive to educate. There is a critical reality before us. Students need more learning space. I don’t see the developer rushing back to build a school on the land already given to us - in addition to the impact fees already contributed. It is up to us to decide if we want to invest in more school infrastructure.
Doubt: “9th grade campuses have never worked. They’ve closed every one they have opened.’” Not every one, but there is a little truth here that warrants more reasoning. Issaquah opened their 9th grade campus knowing from the start it was temporary. That campus fed into TWO separate high schools and was a considerable distance from both. For one example that promotes doubt, there were other examples of success. Our school district studied the pitfalls at the closed schools and studied the practices from the successful 9th grade campuses. Is it easier to point to the failures than to learn and plan for success? SVSD is proposing a 9th grade campus almost adjacent to MSHS where all students will feed TOGETHER. There was research on other districts’ mistakes and what made the successful 9th grade campuses work.
Doubt: “This is the most expensive middle school in the history of our state.” District officials say this is not true. The topography and wetlands building site make it an expensive site for construction compared to flat, non-wetlands sites. Construction costs rose dramatically after 2005. Costs decreased some during the recession, but are still much higher today. Building a new middle school is expensive and asks for construction tax monies. Is it easier to blame the high cost without knowing the construction details/factors that add to the total estimate than it is to look closer and believe it is a responsibly assembled plan? A plan that was estimated by appropriate agencies and is in line with similar projects state-wide and national construction estimates?
Does the bottom line have to be doing what’s easier? Maybe my friend is right – it is easier to doubt than to believe. Doubt may be easy, but is the research to ease (or possibly solidify) the doubt really that much harder? Vote yes. Vote no. My challenge is that we vote. Challenge our doubts and figure out where we stand on the issue.