Editorial: Culver residents need to restore trust, engagement

Published May 25, 2013 at 05:00AM

Eighteen months ago, voters rejected a Culver school bond by 381 votes. This week, the gap was only 60 votes.

That’s more than a glimmer of hope.

This year’s bond request was smaller — $9.75 million vs. the earlier $14.6 million — which surely helped.

The district has real needs, including asbestos abatement and replacement of failing heating systems that are more than 40 years old. Some aging classrooms need to be demolished and replaced.

Some say voters don’t trust the district because of a decision made back in the boom times of 2008 to purchase adjacent land without asking voters for approval. Debt from that purchase is one of the burdens the new bond would have addressed.

Others say too few residents have students in school and don’t connect with or understand the need. And in some cases, there appears to be a misunderstanding by those who think out-of-district students are costing the district extra money, when in fact state funds come with those students.

When Bulletin reporter Lily Raff McCaulou sought answers after the election, some opponents wouldn’t talk for fear of harassment from neighbors. Another sign of disaffection appears in the failure of citizens to run for vacant school board positions.

That may be the biggest problem and the challenge for the community to overcome. Restoring trust and engagement when it’s been damaged by misunderstanding or poor decisions is critical.

Whatever errors have been made in the past, it’s time for Culver to get over it. Opponents need to get involved and express themselves constructively. All parties need to work together to find answers that more residents can support.

If they don’t, the whole community, not just students, will suffer.

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