Building Consensus

by Jay Miller

I am part of an informal committee of county residents that wants to understand the reasons why the November 8 school levy referendum did not gain approval from county voters.

We believe something must be done to address the state of school buildings in Pocahontas County – and that additional funds will be needed. We also believe that any future approach must address the needs and concerns of a majority of county voters. We propose to start with community involvement and continue involving the community throughout a process which may lead to a future referendum for rebuilding school facilities. We believe that consensus on this important issue can be determined through deliberations with a thoughtful and involved public.

The Pocahontas Times has offered space for us to report our findings as our work progresses. This is the first in a series of columns that we expect to unfold during the coming months.

To determine why the recent school levy proposal failed, the committee plans to use standard research methods (e.g., questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, etc.) to determine why some county voters supported the proposed levy while others did not. The committee may also seek information to understand why the 2012 school levy proposal failed by a similar margin even though it was intended to fund different school improvements. The Committee plans to survey civic groups and other interest groups (including active and retired teachers) and to sample residents who voted in the referendum.

As needed, the committee will seek background information from members of the Board of Education and employees in the Board Office that is needed to complete the study.

The committee is comprised of registered voters in Pocahontas County who are not current employees of the county school system. The committee will expand its membership, as needed, to include other county voters who can assist in completing its work. Members of the committee will incur any expenses associated with conducting the study without seeking reimbursement.

The committee plans to issue a report within six months which will be made available to the Board of Education and Superintendent’s office, The Pocahontas Times and Allegheny Mountain Radio.

If you have any questions or comments about this study, please contact me at jvmiller2008@gmail.com

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