Small voter turnout a concern

“This is good news,” Minot Public School District Supt. Mark Vollmer told The Minot Daily News on Tuesday.

The “good news” Vollmer spoke of was the passage of a $39.5 million bond issue to pay for construction of a new elementary school, two elementary school additions and safety and security changes in the district. The bond issue passed with 66.96 percent of the vote. A $125 million bond issue failed to pass in December.

The passage is good news to the school district and the students it serves. It will help eliminate the use of portable classrooms, and will ease overcrowding issues at several elementary schools in the district. But the discussion of how to house the growing number of elementary students in Minot’s current middle schools is just beginning, and the issue will have to be addressed in the near future.

We believe the school district did a better job than in December of providing details as to how the money will be spent. While it’s true that no one likes to have their property taxes raised, it’s more palatable when we know exactly what the funding will provide.

On a side note, as we were in December, we’re dismayed at the lack of voter turnout on such an important issue. From the months of passionate discussion about the school bond issue from both supporters and opponents, we expected both votes to attract a much higher pecentage of Minot’s eligible voters. Voting was held in one location, so there shouldn’t have been any confusion about where to vote. The Minot Municipal Auditorium has plenty of parking, so that wasn’t an issue, and Tuesday’s weather was ideal. Yet 2,740 fewer people voted on Tuesday than at the bond issue vote in?December.

We believe it was necessary to pass the bond issue to address the district’s growing list of needs, and those who exercised their civic right by voting are to be commended. But having such important local issues decided by such a small percentage of Minot’s eligible voters is an ongoing concern, and we hope for larger turnouts when future issues are put before voters.