Just about a year and a half ago voters in the Culver School District were asked to tax themselves $14.5 million for a variety of school improvements, including a storage facility that also would include space for athletics. Overwhelmingly, they said no.
Now the district is back with a smaller — $9.75 million — request that would do much of the work of the earlier request, minus the storage/athletics building. Officials believe they can make a persuasive case for approval at the May election.
Just under half the money raised, $4.85 million, would go for additions to the district’s elementary and middle schools and improvements at the high school. The space is needed: After a slump during the recent recession, district enrollment grew by 6 percent this year and likely will continue to grow. Buildings are full or nearly so, meanwhile, and it makes sense to add on while construction costs and interest rates are relatively low.
Another $3 million would go to repairs and upgrades of such things as electrical and heating systems and to bring schools up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Stephanie Garber, the district’s superintendent, likens the laundry list of projects to keeping a combine in good repair. You may have to spend money to do it, but unless the money is spent the combine will be useless at some point.
Finally, about $1.9 million would go to pay off a bond used to purchase land the district will need in the future. The purchase has been controversial, to be sure, but it’s also almost five years old: It’s a bell that was rung in 2008 that cannot be unrung now. Even if they must hold their noses to do so, district voters should move on where that is concerned. Voters will decide the fate of the bond request at the May 21 election.
Meanwhile, they should take time to find out as much as they can about what they’re being asked to approve. School board members, the superintendent and others will, we suspect, be more than happy to answer questions about what’s being proposed.