The Cape Girardeau Public Schools Foundation's current effort to raise $600,000 for the new Central High School may confuse some who remember voting for an $18 million bond issue for that school just two years ago.
But, as has been the case with the district time and again for the past few years, the request is a sign of fiscal responsibility, not poor planning. One need only look back over the chain of events since April 2000 to see that is the case.
Seventy-five percent of participating voters said yes to the bond issue for the new high school, a healthy margin for extending any tax levy. But that number isn't as surprising if one considers the approach.
Then-superintendent Dan Steska carefully gathered community consensus on the issue, inviting leaders to carry the "Continue the Commitment" torch lit in 1997, when the school board approved a master plan. There were no questions left unanswered, and voters were assured the money would be used wisely.
The winning bid for the high school was $23 million. The extra $5 million of cost over the $18 million bond issue was, from the outset, to be covered with interest earnings and the district's capital-projects budget.
Dipping into that budget meant that some special items for the new CHS that weren't considered vital would either have to be delayed or funded by community donations.
That's where the foundation stepped in, asking the community for $600,000, which is a sizable amount. But break that down into individual items and it doesn't seem so unachievable.
The wish list includes such as filing cabinets. Certainly, many donors could afford the cost of one cabinet. The list also includes display cases and weightlifting equipment.
When the school holds a dedication and open house in September, the public will see that Central High School's library is a colorful, tasteful showplace and the school's heart, a well-lit area where students can study or read just for the joy of reading. There's not enough money for all new furniture, but foundation donations could be used for new tables and chairs.
Although nothing on the list would be considered cheap, all the requested items seem reasonable.
The school will open on time. But patrons of the Cape Girardeau School District have come this far. Here is an opportunity to go the rest of the way by getting involved in the foundation's fund-raising effort.