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Published: Saturday, 2/12/2005

Still getting a 'no'

A SONG on top of the country music charts a few years ago posed the question: What part of "no" don't you understand?

More than likely, singer Lorrie Morgan didn't have the Lake Local School Board in mind, especially since she was singing about a one-night stand, and the Lake board has been trying the same come-on with district voters for what seems like years now, with a stunning lack of success.

Lake voters said no - again, and even more emphatically than in the past - last week, overwhelmingly rejecting not one but two funding proposals, one of them a 0.5 percent payroll tax, the other an 8.75-mill levy. Both went down by roughly a 3-to-1 margin.

No room for misinterpretation there. The district's taxpayers could not be much more emphatic than that. They are saying in a clear voice: We are tired of this. Do a better job of managing the resources you have.

Both the school board and the voters have got to be weary of this drill by now. Last August the Lake board of education tried the property tax levy approach and lost badly. Extracurricular activities such as sports were scrapped, precipitating such an uproar that the board reinstated them.

Then it went back to the voters in November with the income tax idea, and that got clobbered by more than 2 to 1.

So what does the board do? It brings back both proposals on the same day. The repudiation at the polls was as predictable as it was stunning.

Now the board plans to go down the same road yet again with still another levy request in May.

This is a suburban school district with serious problems, including the burden of an overwhelming lack of public confidence. Unless it turns itself around in a hurry, the district could be looking at a state takeover and the loss of local autonomy.

The board should have figured out by now that simply coming back and coming back and coming back is not going to work.

We doubt that the folks who live in the Lake school district want an inferior education or greatly diminished extracurricular experience for their children. We suspect that what they do want is a new start with a new school board. If the board they've got doesn't resign - every last one of them - the voters should see to it themselves.

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