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Jack Zaleski, Published March 15 2014

Zaleski: Intellectual fraud wins school vote

The phoniest argument “no” voters trotted out during their dishonest campaign to hamstring the Fargo School District’s budgeting flexibility was their self-righteous irritation that Davies High School was built without voter approval. If ever there was a canard predicated on perverse stupidity that was it.

The “no” prevailed in a light turnout of voters in last Tuesday’s balloting. The question was whether to allow schools the latitude within sensible mill levy limits (not a one-size-fits-all legislative restriction) to budget for current and projected priorities. A “yes” vote affirmed that the proven status quo has worked well for Fargo’s school children and for district taxpayers. The spin the “no” crowd concocted was simplistically flimsy, demonstrably skewed to fit mean-spirited biases, and ultimately will damage the quality of education in Fargo classrooms, should the “no vote stand. The school board could schedule another vote.

The anti-Davies lunacy was one part intellectual fraud, one part grim ignorance – a winning brew if ever there was one. No place for fact and truth in that recipe.

The new high school came about after a lengthy public involvement process that featured dozens of listening and planning sessions aimed at updating the long-range facilities plan. Hundreds of school district patrons participated. The need for Davies was obvious. A third high school comported with long-standing wishes of district patrons that schools not get overly large, and that more opportunities of all kinds be available to more students, which the addition of Davies would provide. Constructed in the city’s south growth area, the school is functioning precisely as was advertised – academically, athletically and in its co-curricular activities. It’s become an excellent school in short time.

I’m guessing that few, if any, of the self-anointed high priests of the church of “no” attended a single public facilities plan meeting. Heck, it’s much easier to throw rhetorical rocks from the bleachers than actually get into the game.

And if there had been a vote on Davies, it would have been advisory only because the school board was not seeking a tax increase. The school was built without special levies. Over the years the district wisely established mechanisms to acquire land and build buildings without adding to the tax burden. Sounds like good fiscal management to me.

Even if a Davies advisory vote had gone “no,” and the board opted for a reassessment that caused a delay in construction, the population-driven mandate for the school was not going away. The high school would have been built later than sooner, and then the price tag would have been considerably higher, thanks to the chronic anti-schools affliction of the “no” cabal.

A little harsh? A tad unkind? Damn right. Offended? Good. There is no reason to extend North Dakota nice to snide and visionless dolts who are more interested in chalking up a faux win than in the education of Fargo’s kids. Respect the voters? Nope. Not this time.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at jzaleski@forumcom.com or 701-241-5521.