What should Milton do next? After this year’s failed capital referendum, I have been asked this question several times. As a member of the Milton School Board, I speak only for myself and my views and opinions do not represent those of the school board.
Talking to many community members, I believe a good portion of people voted “no” due to the cost of the referendum and financial reasons. However, a good portion of people vote “no” because they no longer trust the district administration or the school board and their decision making processes. The voters are right to think so. Why do I say this?
A couple truths need to be pointed out. First, Milton School District community members have told district leaders they will not support a new high school for the fourth time. The first time was a district-wide survey conducted by School Perceptions, a survey the district quickly dismissed but has proven to be incredibly accurate up to this point. A spring election and two failed referendums later, and we have come to this point.
Second, just because someone voted against the referendum does not mean they are against kids and teachers. Likewise, just because someone voted “yes” for the referendum does not mean they are for kids and teachers. Unfortunately, some district leaders do not understand this and are associating with groups which use the kids as pawns in a game of manipulation. This will cause a backlash every time.
The district community must move forward and take the next step because, as the vast majority of district residents agree, there are facility needs that are still waiting to be addressed. I do believe there is an ideal solution that is a harmonious balance between the needs of the students and the needs of taxpaying community members. Many members of the community on both sides of the past referendum have innovative and creative solutions which must be explored, some of which have not been revealed, yet. However, reviewing options is not the next step.
The next step the Milton School District administration and school board must take, in my opinion, is to regain the trust of the public. At this point, district leadership’s quest to regain the community’s trust will likely prove to be more difficult than identifying a facility solution everyone can agree on.