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Jefferson County Board trying another bond

October 04, 2000

Jefferson County Board trying another bond



Like a knockout victim determined to get back in the ring as soon as possible, the Jefferson County Board of Education is considering another try at a bond issue, little more than a week after the voters defeated the board's last request. Our advice to the board is the same we'd give to a recently defeated boxer: Wait a while, at least until you figure out what led to your last defeat.

On Sept. 23, Jefferson County, W.Va. voters overwhelmingly rejected the board's bid for a $39 million bond that would have built a second high school, financed the renovation of the existing high school and paid $1.2 million in increased costs for a new middle school.

Officials speculated then that citizens rejected the bond for a variety of reasons, including the mistaken notion that if local voters didn't pay for the construction, state funds would. Others objected to building a second high school in a county where there's only been one in the past. Still others are opposed to the extra cost, which would have been about $110 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home, had the bond passed.

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The latest proposal would ask voters to approve a $25 million bond in May, even as the county seeks $20 million in state funds from the school building authority. The authority originally said the funding package the county sought was dependent on the bond being passed, but Superintendent David Markoe says the system's options are limited.

Here's our suggestion: Ask the school building authority for the cash anyway. It probably won't be forthcoming, but the rejection may open the eyes of those who imagined the state would pay for this project. Then spend some time talking to citizens and taking them on tours of the high school to show them where the needs are.

At the same time, the county commissioners have to move to implement growth-control measures like adequate-facilities ordinances. The lack of school classroom space shouldn't be used as a backdoor method to control growth.

The school system needs to convince the public this bond is needed, and doing so will require a lot more than putting another proposal on the ballot.

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