Tight Vote indicates tighter scrutiny of CPS projects and promises
COLUMBIA, 4/9/12 (Beat Byte) -- Wary of broken promises and shifting priorities -- the school air conditioning versus administration headquarters controversy a chief example -- Columbia Public Schools (CPS) supporters passed a $50 million bond debt issue with the lowest margin in 10 years: 61%.
The approval margin fell by double digits over two previous bond issues that won voter approval with 15% higher margins.In 2010, voters approved a much larger amount -- $120 million -- by 77.2%. Voters passed other bond issues dating back to 2002 by these margins:Voters have not disapproved a CPS bond issue since 1959, a track record of flowing funds some believe has made bond debt a prime target of special interests such as development and construction businesses.
Last August, CPS administrators raised property taxes to pay for air conditioning projects they described as "stalled," specifically breaking a promise to use only bond funds. The year prior, the Chris Belcher administration pushed a multimillion-dollar administrative headquarters addition through during the summer break, when many people were on vacation.
The next two years promise elevated scrutiny, as CPS again promises to replace classroom trailers and complete air conditioning projects before going to voters in 2014 with a request for $50 million more in bond debt.