Our View: Somerset school proposal now in voters' hands
School districts never like to forward a building referendum question to the voters if school board members aren't solidly behind the plan.
But that less-than-ideal scenario is occurring in Somerset, where the School Board voted 4-2 Monday to include a $35.4 million question on the upcoming April ballot.
Few can argue that Somerset's space needs are acute. Every last bit of available space is being eaten up by growing enrollment.
But there appears to be some argument about what to do about the situation. Some appear to be ready to propose a short-term solution to the growing space crunch, i.e. portable classrooms at the High School and Elementary School.
Trouble is, by spending money on portables, a district expends taxpayer money on a building that will only be around for a few years. It seems to make more sense to bite the bullet, find a permanent solution right away and begin paying for the cost sooner rather than later. To delay only means higher costs down the road.
The trouble is that nobody wants their taxes to go up, especially now that the national economy is on the ropes. Higher gas prices and a depressed economy could play a role in how voters view the newly proposed referendum.
Taxpayers are skittish about their financial futures, and that could mean April's referendum will be a tough sell.
But you never know. Somerset voters have been very supportive of their schools over the recent past, and they may back the latest plan.
School Board member Tim Witzmann hit the nail on the head when he said the District's job is to identify the need and then put the issue before the voters.
Now it's up to the voters to decide. That's the way the process works. Those who will pay have a say in how public funds will be expended.
Whether the new high school is approved or rejected, at least everyone can say they played their part in the quest for a solution.