Opinion

A different kind of vote | IN OUR OPINION

The question was bound to come up sooner or later.

It came up Tuesday, at the second community meeting held by the Bainbridge Island School District on its newly unveiled school configuration work.

“When do we get to vote on this?”

The configuration effort, of course, is the district’s examination of how to realign its schools to fit with declining enrollment in the years ahead. Three options have been developed, including two that would lead to the closure of Ordway Elementary. An abandonment of the unique grade 5-6 model at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School, the relocation of the Commodore Options School, and the installation of portable classrooms have also been suggested.

At this week’s community meeting, District Superintendent Faith Chapel reminded the crowd that the eventual decision on school configuration would be made not through a public vote, but by the school board.

That’s true, but it should be noted that Bainbridge voters will determine the ultimate success or failure of configuration.

All options under consideration by the school district will rely on voters to pass a multi-million dollar bond proposal to pay for new classrooms and the refurbishment and replacement of aging school facilities.

Replacing worn-out schools — indeed, the maintenance and rebuilding of outdated or exhausted public infrastructure — is a vital public responsibility.

Any future capital bonds request from the district will require broad support from teachers, parents and the Bainbridge community, however. Future voters will no doubt remember how their views on school configuration were embraced by the school board.

And that’s something district leaders should keep in mind as consolidation talk continue. Residents will eventually get a vote, but it will be with their wallets or their feet.

 

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