The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


February 11, 2014

Bond call

What’s next?

With Saturday’s defeat of a $39.5 million bond call, that is the question Raleigh County Board of Education members will try to sort out when they meet for an as yet unscheduled work session.

There are several things about the bond call election that disturb us.

Of course, No. 1 is that it was so soundly defeated. No one wants their taxes to increase, but such is the nature of this particular beast. You can’t progress without paying and it puzzles us why people cite this as a reason for voting no.

Even if you believe entirely new schools are a luxury we can’t afford, look at the other items that were included in the bond call.

In today’s shoot-’em-up world, we find it appalling that voters did not take security issues addressed in the bond seriously. How easy would it be for someone to accost students or simply walk into the portable buildings at Shady Spring Elementary and wreak havoc?

There has been much discussion this winter about keeping students home from school because the temperatures have been so brutally cold.

Using that as a gauge, should the same tactic be used on scaldingly hot late May or late August days when students — and teachers — bake in unair-conditioned classrooms?

According to Raleigh Superintendent Jim Brown, you can’t just slap in a new HVAC — even if it were affordable — or a couple of room air conditioners in the windows. The buildings are too old and the electrical systems too weak to support such a solution.

With the defeat of the bond call, funds that would have stretched the money into $72 million go away. The School Building Authority will give that money to people who really want to improve their children’s lives and education.

Later this week when the votes are canvassed, it will be interesting to see the breakdown of who voted how in what districts. Perhaps that will aid the board in deciding what to do next.

The other thing we find bothersome is the paltry number of citizens — we use that term loosely here — who took the time Saturday to actually go vote. Raleigh County has 52,509 registered voters; just 6,251 cast ballots. That is just 11.9 percent of those registered voters. Hardly a representative sample.

At least those few had the gumption to approve the reissue of the excess levy.

Some how, some way, we need to find the switch that will flip apathetic people into informed, intelligent, caring voters.

If more people had weighed in on Saturday’s vote, we might feel a little bit better about the defeat. But with so few voting, how do we know for certain that the will of the people has been served?

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