What's the next step for school district?
The West Fargo School District needed a 60 percent majority to pass the June 9th bond referendum. Although the bond referendum failed, it only needed an additional nine percent to pass, with Yes votes comprising 51 percent, and No votes at 49 percent. A total of 4,538 votes were cast, with 2,329 Yes votes and 2,209 No votes. If there had been a bigger voter turnout would the bond have passed? It's hard to say.
I think the district will need to take a close look at the reasons that compelled people to vote Yes or No, and ask what people liked about the building project or what issues concerned them, before going back to the drawing board with a second plan.
A lot of underlying issues were brought up during the open forum meetings, but the main concerns we have heard seem to center around the concept of building a second high school, the boundaries designating where students would attend school, and the price tag.
"The emotional issues on top of economic issues had a definite impact on the vote," West Fargo High School principal Gary Clark said. "We know even in spite of the vote, we have a great community that supports education," he added.
Brad Schmidt, a former board member who joined the board shortly after the new high school was built, says he doesn't envy the current board as they try to come up with an alternative game plan.
"I think they need to go back and analyze why people voted the way they did. Did they know all the facts? I think a lot of things came into play, and there was a lot of confusion out there. We need to find the middle ground and keep in mind what's best for the kids," Schmidt said.
Board president Tom Gentzkow said that the board anticipates coming back with a revised bond plan possibly as soon as October or November. Board members have been getting out and talking to as many people as they are able to for their input.
"We don't want to lose momentum by waiting too long. We want to get some individuals together while things are still fresh in people's minds, and pick out the nuggets that worked and the things that didn't, and come back with a solution. Whether it's less of a price tag, or less building, I'm not sure," Gentzkow said. "
According to state regulations, the board can come back with another bond referendum after three months, however, a school district is not allowed to vote on a bond issue more than twice in a one year period.