We have often been proud of this community for the way it has responded in times of crisis and need, but we have never been prouder than last Thursday.
In a depressed economy, many families are struggling to make ends meet, praying for better days to come. But Thursday, an overwhelming number of citizens stepped up to the plate and agreed to an additional tax to save the schools -- and the future of our children.
By a 3-1 margin, in a turnout that greatly exceeded the primary election only two days before, voters agreed to the temporary supplemental levy that would allow the schools to continue basic operations, including providing the extracurricular activities that are such a huge part of the high school experience.
The school budget will still be tight. There will still be cuts that have to be made to balance the books. For the school district, the work has really just begun. There won't be new textbooks and there won't be new computers. But there will be football and volleyball, basketball, wrestling, track, baseball, softball and band, choir, speech and debate competitions, just to name of few of the extracurricular programs saved.
Those programs are vital to helping create well-rounded citizens of the future. They keep kids involved in school, and nearly two out of every three students at the high school take part in one or more of those programs.
Every citizen who voted "yes" in the election deserves a round of applause and a pat on the back. You saw the need, and even if it was hard to say "yes," you did so. You showed you cared.
Perhaps the greatest praise, however, should go to the graduating seniors at the high school, and other students there, who worked so hard to encourage voters. Not since the political activism of the youth of the 1960s have we seen a group of young people become so involved in politics. It taught them a wonderful lesson -- no matter how cynical we may be at times about the operations of our democracy, ultimate power and the promise of the future resides in the ballot box.
We have saved our local schools, at least for this year. The real test will come over the next year. The crisis was created by the legislature. It won't go away until the legislature "screws its courage to the sticky spot" as Shakespeare said, and decides that education funding is as important as our local voters believe it is. So the next step is to ride them until they restore funding to adequate levels -- and make up some of the difference in what they cost districts around the state this year. Don't let them make any excuses.