Greece Central School District is asking for voter approval on $107.8 million for capital projects. The district could gain public support for future spending by pointing to successes from past spending. For example, if graduation rates are up or operational efficiencies are in place, say so! It’s an opportunity to thank taxpayers for their support and to build community pride. But, the recent eight-page Good News mailing missed opportunities to make connections. Four issues need clarity.
First, size/need: Student enrollment peaked above 14,000 back in 1996-97. Today it’s lower by 3,500. What are projected enrollment and facility needs? Recall the $120 million capital project approved in June 2000 estimated work for buildings that were closed shortly thereafter. So, four high schools now, but for how long?
Second, total cost: Typically bonds are issued to finance capital projects. Does $107.8 million include interest expense? The mailing doesn’t say.
Third, quality and efficiency: Capital investments are made to improve/offer new operations. Will educational achievement go up? Will operating costs go down?
Lastly, district debt: Why is existing debt being retired, then replaced? Debt retirement reduces tax levy.
Voter decisions should not suffer from lack of sound information.
George Hubbard
Greece