Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bond issue gets comparatively smooth launch

June 19, 2008

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education's third attempt at crafting a growth package appears to have gotten a much better launch than its second. The board didn't unanimously approve the estimated $72 million package meant to address needs created by growing enrollment, but its lone dissenting member did agree not to campaign against the bond as he did the past two.

De Soto Board Member Randy Johnson made that vow because he said because the bond does address real classroom needs at Mill Valley High School and elsewhere.

The bond package represents a number of compromises from stated positions, with Shawnee Board Member Jim Thomas putting aside his strong reservations of increasing enrollment at the district's high schools, and Don Clark backed away from his position that the district enlarge De Soto High School to the same 1,400-student capacity that Mill Valley would be should the measure pass.

Clark correctly noted many have criticized past boards for not looking ahead and building larger. But a half-empty, 1,400-capacity De Soto High School would be equally hard to justify to voters during an economic slowdown that is already slowing growth considerably in the district.

If not a compromise, the decision to address needs, including additions to Starside and Clear Creek elementary schools, with money from the district's capital outlay fund, surely helped secure the vote of Bill Fletcher, who strongly advocated the move in the past.

The bond referendum's biggest asset may the decision to put it on the November general election ballot when interest in the presidential race should deliver voter turnout far greater than the dismal 39 percent return of last September's mail-in ballots. But that doesn't ensure success when some will be disappointed projects were left out of the bond, others see unneeded construction and still others worry about making ends meet in hard economic times.

For six board members in agreement on need if not deed should help overcome those concerns.

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