What do voters want?

Every school district can learn a simple lesson from Fonda-Fultonville’s failed attempt to pass a capital project: Find out what the voters want.

Voters in the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District rejected the district’s $19.8 million capital project Tuesday.

The vote was 462 in favor to 327 against, but the measure needed 60 percent of the voters to approve the project. The proposal received 58.5 percent of the vote.

The district will look at exit surveys of voters, which asked the reasons for voters’ decisions.

That’s a good start. The project included a lot of items that seemed reasonable and necessary, such as upgrading fire-alarm systems and repairing the roofs, if the district will remain viable for years to come.

However, it will be important for the district to purchase what voters want.

While the project could have been up to 90 percent state funded, there would still be a local cost for it. The project was projected to increase the tax rate by 53 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value beginning in 2016.

Voters who will be footing the cost for part of the work need to be listened to.

It seems to us the officials in the Fonda-Fultonville school district have a couple of options. They can try and tailor a project that they believe will garner voter approval, or they can scrap the project and look for a way to use the facilities at other districts.

We opined before that if voters approve the measure, they will make a strong, long-term investment in the district’s future. A rejection – which happened – shows voters may be unwilling to make the investment.

In our opinion, Fonda-Fultonville may have to look at whether some form of consolidation is the right course for the district. Sending older students to another school district – which the Wheelerville Union Free School District does – may be more palatable to residents than spending money on facilities.

Ultimately, the residents of the school district will get what they want. Now, Fonda-Fultonville has the difficult, but necessary, task of determining just what that is.