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Rethinking Plan For Better Schools

St. Clairsville-Richland School District officials misgauged public sentiment badly a little more than a year ago. Now, they seem to be taking a more realistic approach regarding repairs and improvements to school facilities.

In November 2018, the district sought voter approval of a $79.9 million property tax levy to fund construction of new schools. The plan crashed and burned: 4,904 voters said no to it, compared to just 1,896 in favor. A companion measure, to raise money for a new swimming pool to serve students, was beaten even more badly, at 5,173-1,596.

Most voters probably do support the school system. But last year’s initiative carried a price tag most thought was far too high.

Now, it is back to the drawing board, according to school Superintendent Walt Skaggs. He said school officials are trying to “engage the community and get input from them to see what they would support.” Part of that effort is a public opinion survey. It can be taken online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/StCFuture1.

Beyond any reasonable doubt, some money needs to be invested in St. Clairsville-Richland schools. But voters last year made it clear they believe $79.9 million — nearly $48,000 for each of the district’s 1,668 students — was too much.

School officials’ public involvement campaign should — if the advice received is heeded — help to prepare a more realistic proposal. That will depend on St. Clairsville-area residents’ willingness to get involved. We encourage them to do so. Just saying “no” is easy. Finding a way to say “yes” is more difficult, but, for the good of young people now and in the future, critical.

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