Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2007

Stakes become clear in USD 232 bond referendum

September 6, 2007

Registered voters in De Soto should have received their mail-in ballots for the De Soto USD 232 bond referendums and many have probably already marked the ballots for return.

The district is asking voters to make two decisions. On Question 1, voters must decide if they agree with what the USD 232 Board of Education decided last spring was $51 million of improvements critical for the district. Question 2, which can only pass if the first question is approved, would build 1,000-seat theaters at De Soto and Mill Valley high schools and install artificial turf at both district stadiums for a total of $19.5 million.

Obviously, Question 1 is the more important decision before voters. Its outcome will have important consequences to the future of the district.

Crafted after voters rejected a more ambitious building program 10 months ago, Question 1 basically allows for a modification of the district's policy on high school enrollment capacity with the expansion of Mill Valley High School to 1,300 students.

Opponents to the bond on the district school board welcome a different approach. Among their arguments is that a high school limit of 1,300 enrollment also will mean change by forcing many families who now send students to Mill Valley High School to send their children somewhere else in the future.

One board opponent also questions whether more than the four-classroom expansions to Mize, Clear Creek and Riverview elementaries is needed to meet their future needs. It is his view that they also require more lunchroom and activity space.

Clearly there is more to it, but the rejection of Question 1 would signal voters want a completely different approach to school sizes, particularly on the high school level. That was probably not the intended consequence of those board members who supported the bond, but that would seem to be the stakes. Two failures would signal the need for a different approach, which would likely be reflected in the district's new strategic plan when that is considered next year.

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