By the Herald's own admission (editorial, Herald, June 20), District 9-R's key to placing a successful mill-levy override question on the November ballot lies in full public understanding. Voters must be provided with clear and specific plans and accurate reporting in order to make an informed decision when the time comes.
The Herald also reported (June 16) that a poll of 302 likely voters, conducted June 1-3 by Harstad Strategic Research showed 62 percent of respondents indicated they would support a tax increase; 23 percent said "definitely yes," while 39 percent said "probably yes." On June 30, the Herald reported: "The concept of a mill-levy override and how it might be used were rated in a survey of about 400 residents." By my way of thinking, 302 likely voters isn't equivalent to almost 400 residents and gives the impression the mill-levy override supporters are already cooking the books.
Money garnered by the mill-levy will presumably target three areas based on answers to an online survey conducted by 9-R. If you were to ask a Miss America contestant how she might improve education, you'd get the same answers: Reduce class size, pay teachers more money and invest in technology.
Rhetoric versus reality: You can't reduce class size without hiring more teachers - a lot more teachers - and providing more classroom space. Teachers deserve more money, but what level of wage increase are we talking here? And what "investments" will we make in technology? Are we talking laptops, microscopes and smart boards, or software that promises to raise scores on standardized tests?
I expect the ballot campaign to be filled with the standard fare of ambiguous terminology and "pie crust" promises. We will be told how voter approval will help support "a community committed to innovation and excellence in education." We'll hear how "This is Durango's opportunity to make an investment in a world-class educational system" - whatever that means.
Currently, I'm a definite maybe because, if passed, we residents will face a monumental challenge holding the administration and school board accountable for its spending.
Bill Bowlby, Durango