District should put levy back on ballot

The Marietta City Schools bond levy that would have paid the local share of a one-campus construction failed before voters Tuesday but we hope the district gives it another shot.

Voters who said “no” had myriad reasons–and many were valid. They may be on a budget with zero wiggle room, believe in the benefits of community schools or live in the neighborhood where construction would take place and fear for their property values and quality of life.

But there are just as many reasons to support this project.

Not only would it provide a better educational environment for students, greater collaboration and resources for educators and a shared campus with a community college, but it would be the greatest investment we could make in the future of Marietta.

Population in the city is declining. It will continue to do that, and even more rapidly, if we don’t upgrade our schools. Already, Marietta, once the main hub of the county, is seeing employers and services shift to the Belpre-Parkersburg area and beyond. We need an anchor and a reason for families to want to remain in and move to Marietta–that’s quality schools.

The board of education and levy committee made a strong case for why this project is needed. However, if they move forward with another campaign, they might want to consider giving more specifics about what will happen if the new schools don’t. They’ve said they may have to close one or two current schools. Consider telling voters a specific plan: If we don’t get the state money to build new, this school will close on this date, saving the district this amount of money. It might help people to make a clearer decision.

Also, we wonder if the district is willing to consider other possible locations in order to make this happen. Sure, the proximity to Washington State Community College is a wonderful perk but many people have concerns about that location, from traffic to environmental issues. Is there a Plan B?

Tuesday’s loss was a disappointment, but we know those who spoke out for the levy believe in its benefits wholeheartedly. These bond levies often take multiple tries to pass in our local districts. Let’s take that passion and give it another go. It’s worth the effort.