School bond: Yes or No, something must be done

November 03, 2006 12:00 am

Measure 33 isn't a referendum on whether to build a new middle school or remodel the existing buildings.

Nor is it a vote on the competence of the job done by the school board and its task force and superintendent in assessing the current facilities and the district's options — or the curious tactics of the political action committee attempting to pass the bond.

This is the question:

Should the patrons of Baker School District 5J authorize the district to borrow up to $19.8 million to build a new middle school and make improvements at the district's other schools?

Voting "No" on Measure 33 doesn't mean the school district is going to get new leaders and produce a different or better proposal. Some new school advocates have said that if the bond fails this election, they will just keep putting the bond on the ballot until it is passes.

This school board doesn't plan to revisit the "remodel versus build new" question (although there is an election next year). That means a lot of time could go by before the very real deficiencies with the middle school buildings are addressed.

To borrow a trope from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, you solve public problems with the elected officials you have, not the ones you'd like to have.

However, if you vote "Yes" on Measure 33, demand that the school board hire a project manager to shepherd this project to fruition. Require accountability and transparency for acquiring and divesting public land and buildings.

And if you vote "No," you need to be prepared to step into the fray and demand a better proposal, one you will be willing to vote — and pay — for.

Because either way the election goes, we can't afford to wait. Baker School District 5J patrons must insist on creating a better educational environment for 7th- and 8th-graders as quickly as possible.