Brian T. Kelly: Pull 3A, 3B off ballot
I guess we should support the “big picture” when all the underlying facts fail to support the premise.
The “big picture” in the case of the proposed bond Issue and the associated mill levy override is that the “master plan” was hastily assembled; failed to get reasonable construction costs; two months into the process was ignoring dissenting public comment; abandons a desirable high school site for a barren site west of the population center; underestimates infrastructure costs; hastily discards the Whistler site, Steamboat II site or Christian Heritage as solutions to elementary overcrowding; gets the under-capacity high school involved in a district-wide remodeling of two major facilities that can’t possibly be disruptive to the students in those buildings; and supports the premise that the public should get behind a bond that is three times the size of any successful bond in this community’s history?
Have I missed anything else in that run-on sentence? Oh, the fifth- or seventh-best educated county in the country (Steamboat Today article three or four years ago) can’t possibly think for ourselves 10 years from now. Therefore, we should pass a bond issue based on uncertain demographics that will take care of all of the district’s capital needs for 20 years. Despite the fact such a group of overbuilt buildings will be one-third to halfway through their usable lifetime in that long of a time period.
The bond proposal has so many factual holes in it that if it were a boat, it would barely make it off the shore before sinking. Therein lies the real issue — as the bond proponents visit community groups and are faced with a series of hard questions, public trust in the district is eroding.
The community is a core reason why the district has been accredited with distinction for many years now. We have a well-educated community that believes in the value of education and has consistently backed any reasonable tax proposal that benefits public education. That includes half-cent sales tax proposals, the 1997 and 2005 bond issues, as well as a mill levy override.
I was an integral part of the failed 1995 bond issue and well remember the lessons we learned there. It took two years for the community to regroup and move on. At least at that time we had good support within the education community. We don’t even have that now.
The organized opponents to the bond issue are a group of concerned parents, many of whom have spent time on the DAC, SACs or the Education Fund Board. I have spoken to at least six former school board members who are opposed to the bond issue.
We are the friends of education. Anyone who has spent four years or more volunteering their time at countless public meetings on behalf of our children should be an automatic supporter. When those people aren’t in your camp, you are not in a little trouble. You are in a lot of trouble.
I would immediately urge the school board to withdraw the bond issue and the mill levy override from the ballot. What is at stake here is transparency, trust and a bond with the community that is far more precious than any ballot issue.
Brian T. Kelly
Past RE-2 board president, four-year school board member, two-time Friend of Education Award winner, original chair of “Just Good Cents Committee” — the first half-cent sales tax election in 1993 and past member of the Education Fund Board, Education Excellence Commission and Growth Commission
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