Tough decisions ahead for school district, voters

Marshall Public Schools is still stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On Monday, the district’s board heard from Superintendent Scott Monson who reported that while voters the last couple years shot down bond issues to expand facilities, “the needs are not going away.”

Monson reminded board members that the district is addressing a 3 percent increase in student enrollment. He also said that the 3 percent increase has created additional challenges, including the need for more support staff and space.

Monday’s report comes on the heels of a recommendation from a facilities committee that the district move forward and plan for some kind of project with a smaller dollar amount that would focus on space and safety needs at the elementary and early childhood levels. The committee recommended the board authorize the administration to begin preparations for a facilities referendum, potentially as early as spring 2018.

So here we go again.

Monson and the district heard the message from voters loud and clear. The past bond issues failed by 224 votes and 924 votes.

“I think we’ve heard certain messages in the past — maybe the amount was too high or the tax impact was too high,” he told the board. “I think we’ve heard, ‘Try to prioritize and come back with a smaller amount with less tax impact.”

Monson’s acknowledgement to the present voter sentiment should be well-received within the community. Any future bond issue must balance district needs and tax impact affordability.

And then ultimately, voters will have to decide how far this community is willing to kick the can down the street.