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School board fumbles bond proposal

With a surprising lack of resolution, the Sisters School Board has decided to send another weakly defined bond measure to the voters.

Two separate advisory committees have told the school board that the best, most cost-effective method to accommodate growth and improve education in Sisters is to add elementary classrooms and embrace year-round school.

The board flinched at that message, sent the advisory committees back to resift the numbers and last November forwarded a timid request to voters for $5.5 million. This included $3.5 million that would add classrooms but not year-round school, resolving the growth problem for only two, maybe three years.

The $2 million was for poorly identified "capital improvement" projects that would shift some costs from the operations portion of the budget, limited by Measure 5, to the capital projects portion, for which the district can borrow through a bond.

The voters rejected that $5.5 million request, 1,200 opposed to 1,087 in favor. School board members Bill Reed and Charles Warren apparently believe that the voters were uninformed and because the bond failed by only 113 votes, what they need to do is convince 57 people who voted against the bond last November to vote for an identical proposal next May.

They said as much on February 5 and finessed the rest of the board into going along, with the notable "nay" vote from Harold Gott, who said the $2 million capital projects portion should be reduced.

Our $3.5 million will buy them two or three years. Then, Warren said, "Another board will make the decision on whether to go to year-round school or build a middle school."

This shows no leadership and makes no sense. A school board has continuity over time, even though those who occupy the chairs may change. It is irresponsible to simply throw a decision that should be made today into the lap of some future school board member to deal with when classes are already overcrowded.

It would probably take two or three years to successfully implement a multi-track, year-round calendar. We should start with a single-track calendar next year, identifying problems faced by teachers and working with them toward solutions, and assisting families with potential conflicts.

Money from the bond should have been identified and set aside for expressly this purpose.

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