And while we remembered all of this, what we did not remember was the lead time given to the public about the 2005 capital project. From the newspaper clipping we reviewed it seems that the project was first brought to the public’s attention in a Feb. 12, 2004 column entitled “CCS News.” In it, the then superintendent provided what we think is an excellent explanation of the purpose of a capital project by writing: “A community’s focus on its institution of public education primarily centers on curriculum and instruction, but another major aspect of a district’s functions is the maintenance and improvement of its facilities. Each year our district establishes a budget for routine maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and property that comprise our campus.
There are times however, when major projects need to be accomplished and financed outside of the regular annual budget process.”
This made perfect sense then and it makes perfect sense now. In fact, we would be hard pressed to figure out how one might disagree with this explanation. It is certainly no different than expenses homeowners experience while maintaining their homes. But the seemingly ubiquitous problem with all capital projects is not understanding the need for improvements but rather on reaching agreement on what is needed and what is desired as well as what is affordable and what is not. Both of these questions always seem to be the sticking point with capital projects especially in school districts where there is a fair amount of socio-economic diversity.
And never was that more obvious than it was with the CCS 2005 proposed capital project. Of course, the 2005 capital project was not the first school vote to be defeated. Nor would it seem it will be the last. But we do think it will stand out as being the most overwhelming defeat of a school vote.