Hey, we've got a Kindergartener now! So that means that when it comes to these off year school board and school bond elections, I kind of have to do my homework and give a shit a little more than I have in years past. (This isn't to say that I didn't care before, it's just that now, I've got some skin in the game, as it were...)
$191.5 million is on the line on September 12th and the yard sign derby (i.e. the totally unscientific survey of yard signs as I drive through where ever I'm driving) seems to be relatively evenly split. I see 'Yes' signs and I see 'No' signs. It's hard to tell where this is going to land- there are a number of fault lines worth exploring here and whichever combination of factors can come together to swing this thing one way or the other.
There's geography. The center of gravity of the district is shifting to the northwest as North Liberty, Coralville and Tiffin all drive population growth. There's people fighting for schools. The 'Save Hoover' crowd and the brigade of Hills Elementary supporters. There's fiscal conservatives who are dubious at the school district's master plan and how much money it's spending (along with a healthy sprinkling of anti-government libertarians and general townie contrarians). So, it's hard to get a sense of where this is going to land or what direction it's going to go.
The websites of the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns are well-designed and chock full of facts, and make their cases, but here's the thing kids- as much as $191.5 million makes me queasy (especially since it seems like the School District just asked for some cash like, ten minutes ago), the 'No' campaign just didn't do it for me. Therefore, I'm voting YES on the School Bond issue and so should you.
The 'No' Camp threw a strike right from the get go. 'Current Plan Endangers Hills Elementary' oh, so we're leading with fear mongering right off the bat? The Hills Elementary Brigade will take to the barricades (and maybe with good reason) and fight the fight for their elementary no matter what- but honestly, it's a mystery to me why more people aren't living and moving to Hills- but they aren't. If that changes over the next 5-10 years, Hills Elementary will probably be fine. If not, it'll probably close.
Strike Two is their whole bogus ethnics complaint against Liberty High Principal Scott Kibby. I wasn't impressed and, as it turned out, neither was the State Ethics Board.
Strike Three is their fudging of the enrollment projections... they're claiming that they don't add up, but the question then becomes, is it better to be over capacity or under capacity? If it's the former, then you're in the enviable position of having more space than you know what to do with. If you're under capacity then you're just going to have to go back to the well for another bond issue down the road anyway.
The Yes Camp (and the School District itself) hit me with a list of projects that this bond will cover and that's ultimately what did it for me. 20 projects in total- including a new North Liberty Elementary School (needed, I'd imagine), at least 7 music and art room additions at 7 different elementary schools as well as classroom additions at all the high schools and junior highs through 2024. None of these projects seem like a waste of money to me. And in the absence of a compelling argument from the No Camp, I'm going to invest in the future facilities of the district- and so should you. So remember to vote YES, September 12th.