First, a ballot proposal to fund the construction and furnishing of a high school at the Andover site has passed in a legal election. I do not see any advantage in re-visiting that fact. Our school district now has approval to spend $79-million to establish a high school. Period.
Second, the results of the last two school bond elections reveal a "disconnect" between voters and our elected school board that must be acknowleged and addressed.
Allow me to explain:
The BHSD has about 30,000 voters, total.
In Nov. 2010, a proposal to build a single school at Andover, which included a skybridge to a new Central Administration building, was defeated. The vote tally was:
YES 8,822 (44.87%)
NO 10,839 (55.13%)
19,661 total votes (10,000 "abstained")
In May of 2012, a proposal to build/renovate was on the ballot. The vote tally was:
YES 7,817 (61%)
NO 4,998 (39%)
12,815 total votes (17,000 "abstained")
Here's my concern: Why did the May 2012 proposal receive 1,000 FEWER "yes" votes than the proposal of No. 2010?
An even more serious concern is that 10,000 voters did not register an opinion on this issue in a general election, and 17,000 voters did not register an opinion in May of 2012. In other words, more voters "stayed home" or did not register a vote than the number of people who voted YES in either contest.
Let's hope it's not apathy.
The residents of the BHSD have generously funded public education in our community for decades. Why such low voter participation relating to school issues now?
If this low participation is a reflection of apathy toward public education, then we have a problem. People don't support things that they don't CARE ABOUT.
I have a suspicion that many "NO" voters stayed home on May 8 simply because they tired of the issue. The amount of the bond was far less than prior proposals. Why bother to fight it? Just a guess.
But why did 1000 "YES" voters stay home?
An organization certainly produced lots of advertising materials to promote turnout by "yes" voters. The district held community meetings designed to explain the plan and gain support. Where was everybody? Too busy to VOTE?
Were they unenthusiastic about the plan? If so, what are their concerns?
Do we have a problem with voter "disconnect?" If we do, then we need to recognize it and address it.
It seems to me that the issue of public education, funding, construction, etc. should show higher rates of participation at the polls.
Apathy is dangerous. We need to CARE about our schools and our students.