— from Randall K. Gaylord —
Dear School Board: Please submit the capital facilities bond proposal to the voters again in the next election, without change. Conventional thinking is to make a modification to a proposal before resubmitting it, but in this case that’s not necessary. Here’s why.
You have gathered all of the community input and put the best proposal forward.
You succeeded in obtaining approval from 59.9 percent of the counted votes. Just three votes shy of 60 percent. In a candidate election, that would be considered a “landslide” victory. You only needed to have changed the vote of three voters, or had seven additional ballots vote “yes.” You should have confidence that you can do that, and more.
Probably enough votes were cast in favor of the measure. Do you realize that 16 ballots were rejected because of a late postmark or missing signature – more than enough to have changed the result? Late postmarks most commonly happen because mail is deposited after 3:00 p.m. on election day and then postmarked the next day. Due to ballot secrecy we will never know for sure, but the late-arriving ballots were solidly in favor of the measure, so that alone is a good reason to simply run the election again.
Looking back, you will remember the bad roads and cold weather during balloting time. That happens sometimes. During such times, the natural reaction of people is to put off voting, or not forward mail to family members living out of the home temporarily. When the weather’s bad, the focus is on moving about safely and keeping the house heated.
“16 ballots were rejected because of a late postmark or missing signature”
You should expect that bad roads and weather won’t be a factor next time, and the turnout will be higher and better reflect the wishes of the community.
Running the same proposal again is not going against the will of the people. Remember, 59.9 percent of the counted votes approved the measure. A bond election is not like a candidate election. There is no primary and the winner does not assume office. You are allowed to run it again, and that should be expected.
Running the measure promptly is the best way to pay for needed capital facilities and take advantage of current low interest rates. No other funding approach is as cost effective as a bond. If interest rates rise before the project is done, the projects will cost more. Please take advantage of the low interest rates and don’t delay.
You will probably hear that you should remove one thing or another and run it again – that the track or the music room or maintenance needs caused people to vote against this proposal. That would make sense if the approval was closer to 50 percent. But 59.9 percent (or more) approved the measure, which shows you have put together a good combination of capital projects.
It’s time for the school district to take a page from other districts, and form a committee to advocate for projects and remind people to sign their ballots and get them to the post office or ballot box early and not on election day. State law limits what school directors can say as a group and prevents the school from using its resources to advocate for the measure, but it does not mean you as individuals should remain quiet. The public wants to see your commitment and one way to do that is to form a committee to explain and advocate, so that voters have the information they need.
Your responsibility and next decision will be felt by the entire community. Our public schools are not exclusively used by public school students. The gyms, music rooms, athletic fields, and the track will be used by all island children including those who are homeschooled and attend private school. We are fortunate that adults will also use these same facilities and their health, heart, and mind will also benefit from the improved facilities you have approved.
[Editor’s Note: Please note this was sent personally, and not as part of Randy Gaylord’s job.]