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Schools are worth $6

Published 10:42am Thursday, March 1, 2012

Six dollars. It doesn’t buy a whole lot these days — not even two gallons of gas. A value meal at a drive-thru costs about $6.
Less than $6 is how much it would have cost each taxpayer in the Buchanan Community Schools district per month if the $19.5 million bond proposal passed Tuesday.
It was a close election — 1,139 voters checked “no,” while 956 said “yes.” This was the second consecutive year the proposal failed.
A 0.8379-millage renewal proposal for 10 years was also rejected in the Cassopolis school district Tuesday. That would have netted $315,000 for the district in 2013.
What does this say about voters — at least the few registered voters who participated in this election?
It says they are not ready to open their wallets for their school districts. Some voters may be wary of the school officials’ plans; others don’t want to shell out the cash because they don’t have kids in the district.
Whatever the reason, it’s a shame.
The American public school system forces districts to be dependent on state funding to operate. If that state funding isn’t enough, they have to go elsewhere — usually the voters. Until the government changes this method, this is what schools have to do to survive. And a thriving school is one that attracts families who fill houses, empty businesses and job openings, which boosts the local economy.
Another recent factor in pursuing bond proposals is Schools of Choice. Do not underestimate how this affects a district, especially in this area, where there are several districts of similar size in close proximity to each other. Schools with outdated technology, traditional programs and crowded classrooms simply don’t make the cut for some families.
Other districts were watching the Tuesday election. Neighboring school officials have indicated they are mulling the idea of putting bond proposals up to voters, and the Tuesday results do not bode well.
While we can’t control the economy, which will have to be monitored for timing, the one thing districts can do is inform voters. They need to know why this matters.
Every time a citizen reaches into his or her wallet — whether it’s for a fast food meal or a bond proposal — they justify it somehow. People need to hear the message over and over again — through forums, one-on-one meetings, fliers, Facebook, websites, yard signs and door-to-door campaigns — or else a bond proposal of any kind will not pass.

This editorial represents the views of the editorial board.

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