By Jessie Wagoner
McPHERSON—Facility needs remain for McPherson Public Schools, but the proposed $112.8 million bond failed to pass last week. Now, the school district, community, and members of the board of education are trying to determine what steps need to be taken to move forward.
After the official vote canvas, it was determined that a total of 3,309 votes were cast. Of those votes, 1,127 were in favor of the bond proposal, and 2,173 were opposed to the bond, and nine votes were void. Voter turnout for a special election was quite high, indicating the community was invested in the process and wanted to express their opinions.
During Monday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Shiloh Vincent explained that, following the election, he met with members of DLR and Hutton to discuss their next steps. Vincent, as well as Stephanie Meyer with DLR, spoke to the board on Monday evening to share those conversations. Vincent highlighted some of the most common reasons he heard from community members for why they voted no.
“The first was concerns about the building site, whether it would fit or not,” Vincent said. “Traffic concerns, flood concerns were obviously something we heard. Others were concerned about the amount being to high; others said they want to support schools but didn’t want to see their taxes increase to that level. That was some feedback we received.”
Meyer said that, in the near future, she recommends holding some public forums to talk with a wider range of community members and gather feedback. She also recommends another community survey being conducted. Vincent said they will be gathering feedback to figure out where the district could have gathered better information from the community. Moving forward, their goal is to increase communication and gather additional input.
Vincent and Meyer both thanked the community visioning committee for their efforts. The committee spent months working on the project and providing input. The community visioning committee will continue in the future, but Meyer said it may be good to “shake it up” and add additional members. She encouraged community members interested in being a part of the committee to contact a board member or the district.
One community member spoke during the public comment section of the board meeting to explain why he voted no. He expressed his strong desire to support the schools and his belief that there are facility needs. However, he had concerns about the low pay McPherson teachers receive and the number of teachers leaving the district. He also had concerns about maintenance practices of the current facilities.
One thing that was clear throughout the process is that facility needs are present in the district. Moving forward, the district hopes to create a second bond proposal that will address those facility needs in a way the community will support. Surveys and public forums will be conducted, and the community is asked to participate so the most accurate information possible can be gathered.