Will of the People

The focus of the final report of the Londonderry School Community Auditorium Committee is a strong message that the School Board should keep the auditorium proposal front and center. As committee chairman Tony DeFrancesco wrote in his report, he wants the Board to “figure out a way to get one built.”

He wrote that the School Board should “do what other Londonderry School Boards have done in past years and act as a board of aldermen and decide for the citizens what is in the best interest of the children.”

He cited the more than 13,000 voters who didn’t cast ballots, calling that a reason for the School Board to decide what is in the best interest of the children. And that best interest, in his view, is an auditorium.

The 13,000 non-voters are the same people whose indifference we would have to consider as responsible for the March approval of a school budget boosted at deliberative session, school collective bargaining contracts, and school resource officers. As well as, on the town side, approval for hiring four firefighters and paying for a conservation easement.

Should we accept that Londonderry voters just made a mistake when it came to the auditorium but knew what they were doing on everything else? Or should we call all those yes votes into question, just like he’s calling the no-vote on the auditorium?

The voters indeed have spoken, and while an auditorium would be a nice addition to the school and the town – hardly anyone says otherwise – the question centers on whether it is the financial priority of the community right now. And that depends on how much disposable spending residents think they have.

This year, they said no. That’s the will of the people, and it should be respected.

No one says the auditorium is dead, nor should they. Perhaps a different approach can be taken in the future.

But the way to do that is not to insult the electorate, lay blame everywhere possible, and have the School Board take on the role of Big Daddy, knowing better than the voters what is in their best interest.

How this became an “us vs. them” issue we don’t know. It’s raised tempers and turned people against their neighbors. In today’s world, an auditorium is a very small item in the grand scheme of what school districts need.

It’s a smart move to listen to the will of the people. Immediately putting the auditorium back on the warrant is a slap in the face of voters. The School Board would be wise to keep that in mind.