The biggest elephant in the room in this 2017 school election cycle is the General Obligation Bond. I’ve barely begun on the campaign trail and that is already the most asked about topic. It seems that support for or against the bond will determine whether voters will elect specific candidates. Because of that, I will tell you how I feel about the upcoming bond vote. However, I would emphasize the fact those two pieces, board candidates and bond referendum, are on the same ballot. Candidates’ feelings on the bond itself will have no effect on the actual passing or failing of the bond vote. Instead, as a candidate, I feel that is important for me to show my support for the Facilities Master Plan. The bond is simply the defined funding source for the plan. The needs of our schools and students don’t go away after the bond vote. Schools are still in need of air conditioning, students are still receiving instruction in portable classrooms, lunchrooms are not adequate to get students through in a timely fashion, music and art rooms are not ideal for instruction and there is limited pre-K space across the district. As a board member, it is imperative to correct these facilities issues to create equitable learning environments for all students. The bond vote is just the starting point to then begin to address the other issues around our district.
But, as I mentioned earlier, you still want to know where I stand on the bond. So, let me tell you. I have spoken in favor of one large bond as opposed to multiple smaller ones. This is not a blind leap of faith in our administration and I do share some of the same concerns of putting such a large number out to the voting public. My support for a single large bond is more pragmatic than anything. Let’s say this bond does not pass. Yes, we can then rework the bond language and likely the dollar amount and put it back to the voters in 6 months to a year. I believe we would get much the same reaction from voters with the overwhelming thought being “I already said no, stop asking”. Now imagine that we asked voters to approve a smaller bond this year and it does pass. We then would have to ask every two years for another approval of another bond. We would likely have to do this for 3, 4 or 5 straight election cycles. Keeping up to date on all that is going on in the district for several years in a row is difficult for even the most involved voter. History shows that the voter turnout in a bond year is 3 to 4 times higher than a normal school election year. These voters will need more and more assurances that their money is being well spent. I would prefer to make those assurances one time and back it up with my work as a board member.
I also understand that there are more concerns at play than just the dollar amount of this bond. I’ve heard concerns of it being a blank check for administration or the projections for seats don’t match the plan. Those are fair and reasonable concerns. I have questioned some of the numbers for individual schools and what they are supposed to receive under this plan. That being said, I would love to be the board member that you can trust to make sure the plan gets completed in a thoughtful manner with due diligence. Here is why I support the bond:
- I want to make sure every school has air conditioning.
- I want to make sure we don’t have kids in portable classrooms.
- I want to make all of our schools accessible to all students, family and staff.
- I want to ensure teaching spaces are adequate for the curriculum being taught in them.
- I want to make sure our students are provided an opportunity for the best education and learning environments to make them productive citizens of the community.
- I want our facilities to no longer be barriers to education, so we can begin to address and correct other barriers our students face.
If projections change over the years, I want to be able to adapt to those changes. I want to hold administration accountable for getting all of these things done. I believe these things can be done within the scope of our Facilities Master Plan and with the bond to fund it. However, if elected, I will do everything in my power to make all of our school needs happen regardless of the outcome