I live in a city where public school referendums have either not been brought to the public or failed over the last twenty years. We finally had one pass a couple of years ago in order to address deferred maintenance, security, and the need for new classrooms. It failed and then passed, but it's now been law for some time, and nothing has been done. With two kids in high school, I kind of need the money to be spent now in order for us to see any benefit, but the $12 million earmarked for new classrooms seems to be missing in action. I guess it's a big school system problem, but it's not what people want when it comes to their kids' education. If you convince people to pass your referendum, you ought to be ready to use the money.
The sad part is that charter schools (that also received money from the referendum) have probably been good at spending their cut. Every private school I've dealt with has also generally used money as soon as it was made available. It seems parents should be able to expect that when a school begs for money, the school is ready to use the money it gets. My kids' school is supposed to get more classrooms after some kind of security elements are added, but it's been two years and several mass shootings without even that upgrade, so it's hard to expect much before they graduate.
Of course, instead of getting going on using the current referendum money, the school district is asking for more money. This time, we're supposed to send money for teacher pay and art/music/sports programs. The district has been able to raise new teacher pay, but veteran teachers have been left out in the cold. That's sad, since most teachers probably don't make it five years in this district. The problem I have is that my money from the last referendum hasn't been used well (or at all), so how can I really throw more money at the system? Also, when you seek money for teacher pay, then do it, rather than combine the new tax with sports and arts. Plus, another 12% of the new referendum money would be sent to those charter schools again.
When a huge $2 billion sales tax hike makes little discernable difference, it's hard to sell another $80 million property tax addition to the public. Looking back at the information from the last referendum, I do see that it's a 15-year plan, which means it was probably never meant for my kids heading into high school, which means I probably should have considered voting against it. Think about that: a 15-year plan to improve schools means even parents of kindergartners might not see the actual results of the vote, which is why a school district ought to never get 15 years behind in maintenance and improvements. I think my idea was we'd get the new stuff now on bonds and then pay it off with sales tax over 15 years, but I'm not really sure any more.
I think it's also a hard sell when your referendums are coming from two areas. I am now paying a property tax, and also an extra sales tax for the first referendum, and then an extra property tax add-on for the new referendum. Maybe next year there will be some kind of school income tax added in.