Article by Ian Grande
It has been a wild week in Stanley, a lopsided school bond vote, a multi-day blizzard, and a thrilling region 8 basketball victory to name a few things.
Here are my thoughts on this weeks:
Blue Jays escape in opening round
The Region 8 Tournament was set to start on Monday but a winter storm ripped through the region and delayed the tournament until Thursday. That same multi-day storm also delayed the Region 4 and Region 6 Tournaments until Thursday.
The Blue Jays received a serious scare in their opening round game against Watford City, but Stanley held on for a one point victory. The win sets up an intriguing matchup with Powers Lake in semifinals. The Blue Jays split Ranchers this season, the game tips off at 6pm tonight at Williston State College, it’ll be a good one.
Stanley Bond Vote Thoughts
I can’t say I was surprised that the bond vote failed, however I was a little shocked that the result was as lopsided as it was.
The total number of votes cast was a also a bit higher than I was expecting, especially with the inclement weather that we experienced on Tuesday.
There were a total of 748 ballots cast during the Stanley bond referendum vote. This is over double the turnout of the last two primary elections 2014 (245 votes) and 2016 (325 votes), both of those elections had contested city council elections, so there was certainly reason for voters to turn out.
This is the beauty of democracy; the information was presented to the community and the community voiced their opinion, in the case the community spoke with a very loud and very clear voice. Then after the dust settles, the community moves forward together and comes up with viable solutions to the problems faced.
Due to the lopsided nature of the vote, I think it is highly unlikely that we will see another building proposal from the school board. In the event we do see another proposal it would likely have to be severely curtailed if it hopes to gain any significant traction in the community.
It is difficult to pinpoint one specific issue that the voters had, but if I had to guess the following issues were probably deal breakers for most voters:
- The total cost of the project being $21.6 million. The sticker shock likely caused significant apprehension amongst voters. That is a very large project for a community this size, couple that with the subsequent impact on property taxes and this was likely the leading factor for community members voting no.
- The timing of the project. The murky economic outlook at the local/state level certainly weighed heavily on voter’s minds.
- Need vs. Want. There were some who questioned whether the project was needed at all. There was also a larger contingent who felt that the project went a bit too far.
Where do we go from here?
Optimizing all resources should be the district’s overriding goal.
Two key questions need to be constantly evaluated?
How can we generate the greatest return on investment (ROI) on any new expenditures?
How can we leverage the existing infrastructure that the district currently owns/employs to achieve the highest Return on Assets (ROA), without adversely effecting staff/infrastructure in the long term?
*With that theme in mind, I will be rolling out a series of plans in the near future that are centered around finding local/practical/fiscally prudent solutions to some of the key issues that were brought up during the debate process.
An overwhelming number of voters turned down this bond referendum but most would agree that something needs to be done.
The community is looking for a fiscally responsible plan to address the needs of the school. This will likely require an out of the box approach.
I am a firm believer that the best solutions will come when the stakeholders of the community are integral in all facets of the project, especially the solution process.
Everyone who lives in the district is a stakeholder in the school, and I encourage you to take an opportunity to be part of the solution in any way you feel comfortable with.
Recent article: North Dakota revenue projections continue to sink
*Ian Grande is the Editor of the Stanley Gazette. If you have any comments or concerns please email StanleyGazette@gmail.com
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