Officials with the Pasco School District are trying their best to involve the community in plans to put together a second school bond proposal.
But it won’t do much good if community members don’t do their part and offer their insight.
The last of three public forums is scheduled for 6:30 tonight at McLoughlin Middle School and there needs to be a good crowd.
People have a tendency to come out in droves to public meetings when something upsets them or they want to complain.
But it is early in the planning process when their voices would be most helpful to public officials.
About 30 people showed up for the first forum on Tuesday evening, and another 40 people attended a Wednesday session.
While their input is undoubtedly helpful, Pasco school officials had hoped for more voices.
It was heartbreaking in February when — of all the school districts running school bond proposals in the Mid-Columbia — Pasco’s was the only one that failed.
A 60 percent supermajority approval rate is needed to pass a school bond, and Pasco’s “yes” votes fell short at 57 percent.
The $69.5 million school bond would have paid for the construction of two new elementary schools and would have replaced Stevens Middle School with a building at the same site.
It also would have added 6,000 square feet of classroom space to Marie Curie STEM Elementary, as well as provide enough money to buy land for future schools and remodel the bus facilities.
If it had been supported, it would have added an estimated 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value — or about $78 a year for a taxpayer with a $200,000 home.
We understand nobody likes tax increases. But we thought that for the number of improvements planned throughout the school district, this was a reasonable ask and we supported the measure.
Since 2000, the Pasco School District has grown each year by about 600 students — which is about the number in a typical elementary school.
Unfortunately, not enough voters felt the same way. Pasco school officials, however, have no choice but to try again.
The need for new facilities and new construction is obvious.
Enrollment in the Pasco School District has continued to climb at an alarming rate for years, and the building capacity is simply not there.
Since 2000, the district has grown each year by about 600 students — which is about the number in a typical elementary school. No wonder Pasco schools have a hard time keeping up with the growth.
After the school bond failed earlier this year, school officials chose to regroup before returning to voters. They hired a consulting firm to help them, which we hope makes a difference.
MGT Consulting has spent a couple months talking to community leaders and school district employees, and now wants to hear from citizens.
The company has organized the forums so that people can share their thoughts anonymously — which you would think would encourage participation.
Pasco School Superintendent Michelle Whitney said residents who have attended the first two forums this week “have been very engaged and knowledgeable about the issues” and that “their insight has been amazingly helpful in framing what is next for us.”
But still, they hoped for more people in the audience.
We know Pasco residents can do better than a 30- to 40-person crowd.
Tonight is the last scheduled opportunity to participate at this particular stage of the discussion. Don’t pass it up.