My letter to the editor (thoughts on the recent bond election)

November 10, 2010

This letter appears in the 11.11.2010 McGregor Mirror:

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Kevin Houchin for his efforts related to the bond election.  Kevin, you did everything you could to educate the community about the issues facing our school district.

You did an excellent job explaining that we have one of the lowest school tax rates in the area.  You clearly articulated that anyone over the age of 65 would have seen no tax increase. You helped everyone understand that the average tax increase would only be about $12 per month.  You did everything you could do.  Unfortunately, you could not make enough people in this town care. That isn’t your fault.

I would also like to thank the school board and the advisory committee for the time spent on this issue.  You did an excellent job.  Again, the outcome was not your fault.  You cannot force a town to want something better for the next generation.  I’ve heard the argument that what we have is “good enough”.  As a town, we have to wake up to the fact that “good enough” is not what we want for our children or our town.  “Good enough” doesn’t cut it.

I’ve heard grumbling from people about how it was bad timing to put down turf at the football field and then call for a bond election.  Besides the fact that turf actually makes sense and many schools in the area are going this route, that issue is nothing more than a red herring.  I strongly believe that it is simply an excuse that the dissenters are using to ease their consciences.  They know that they tied the hands of our administration and hurt the school district and are using this pretext as a salve for that inner voice that is telling them that they should have voted “yes”.  It is a way of justifying a questionable decision.  But make no mistake: it is specious reasoning.

I believe fear ruled the day.  That is the only conclusion that I can draw.  People are uncertain about the future, and it makes them fearful of spending money—even if it is only $12 per month.  As a community, we failed to do the right thing because many of us were afraid.  If $12 per month is a deal breaker for you, then God bless you.  You did what you had to do to keep your household afloat.  You certainly do not need my approval, but I completely understand and agree with your decision.  For the rest of you, I think you made a mistake.  This is not like federal or even county taxes.  This money is used in OUR community–all of it.  Investing in our town’s school district is never frivolous or a waste of money.

The school district has done wonders on a shoestring budget.  Just like the good servant in the parable of the talents, our school leaders have done much with little and I think it was the right time to give them more to work with.  Unfortunately, it may be that our administrators are a victim of their own success.  They have been able to accomplish many good things without raising taxes.  I think we’ve been spoiled by that, but we have to realize that major projects cannot be done in this fashion.  That is why the bond election was so crucial.

Citizens, if we aren’t pushing forward as a community then we are moving backward.  I am proud to be a citizen of McGregor, but I am ashamed and embarrassed by this resounding defeat of the bond election.  I’d like to think that this is not characteristic of our town and our citizens.  I’d like to think we are more forward-looking than that.  We need to be, or this community will not thrive.  Do we want our community and schools to prosper and flourish, or do we only want them to be “good enough”?

David Taylor (david@davidtaylorfamily.com)
MHS Class of 1990