Leave it to students to get to the heart of the matter. In the aftermath of last week's narrow defeat the Jackson School District's $27 million bond issue, students who had worked for a yes vote assessed the situation. One of them mentioned that the cost of the high school additions and renovations will rise to $33 million in just five years. Time, the student correctly observed, is money.
District officials were disappointed the bond issue was not approved, but they were encouraged that a majority of voters favored the package. After all the votes were counted, 56.38 percent of the voters said yes. Because it was a bond issue, the measure required a four-sevenths majority, or 57.15 percent. In all, the bond issue failed by fewer than 100 votes.
Students were a key part of the campaign to generate approval for the bond issue. They gave tours of the existing buildings at the high school campus, manned telephone banks, knocked on doors and spoke to clubs and organizations. Keep in mind none of these students would have been able to enjoy the new facilities. They said they were doing it for future students.
In recent years, especially during the economic downturn a few years ago, it has become increasingly harder to get voters to approve tax increases of any kind. But proposals that are needed and are carefully explained to voters continue to get passed. The task before Jackson school officials, and all those students who see the need for upgrading the high school campus, is to continue educating district voters and making the case for the bond issue.
School officials say they may put the bond issue on the April ballot. If that happens, students who worked so hard this time around will have to redouble their efforts.
And voters who marked the "no" box on the ballot might want to take up the students' offer of a guided tour of the high school campus. Just listening to what they have to say would go a long way in getting even more voter support.