Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mixed messages, part 10

(Part 9 is here.)

It may well be true that the broad, general ballot language gives the district great legal leeway to alter the planned projects after the bond passes. That may even be for the best (though it would be less necessary if the bond plan didn’t extend out so many years). But if that’s the district’s position, shouldn’t it be trying hard not to raise any expectations to the contrary?

But the district is not only including inconsistent messages about the issue in its bond information, it is widely disseminating detailed descriptions of the projects that are planned for each school (example here)—none of which say anything about being subject to change or about how little they are reflected in the ballot language. Here, for example, is how the descriptions are introduced:
On September 12, 2017, voters in the Iowa City Community School District will consider an estimated $192 million bond package. The bond will fund the second half of the approved 10-year Facilities Master Plan (FMP), which impacts every school in the District and every area of the community. Below you will find detailed information on the impact of the FMP on each building within our District. Each school’s project sheet also includes FMP project information on their associated feeder schools.
The descriptions explicitly link the projects to bond funding:

If people are enticed into voting for the bond by these detailed project descriptions, how easy will it be politically to change course later on, if the projects turn out to be unnecessary? Will it be enough to point out the disclaimers that appeared in some parts of the FAQ? By sacrificing candor now to generate support, isn’t the district needlessly laying the groundwork for future conflict?

A more frank presentation of the district’s stance, though, would invite a discussion about whether voters should trust the district to implement the plan in a way that makes sense and is based on real needs.

Continued in part 11.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It goes beyond trust. It is a definitive fact that we do not know the makeup of the board in place when ANY of the actual bonds are to be taken out. With the vague bond language, we do not know truly what we are voting for because we do not know who will be on the board for even the first one. Since the FMP can be changed, and is changed just about yearly, we really are saying with a YES vote that we are approving $192 million dollars now no matter what changes are made to the FMP in the next 7 years.

In my book, that is enough reason in and of itself to vote NO.

A much better alternative is very specific bond language, and only taking out a bond for projects occurring in the next two years. Then we know exactly what we are getting regardless of who is on the board.