Voters made it clear Tuesday that they didn't like the Madison Consolidated Schools' building referendum, defeating it by a wide margin.

Now, it's back to the drawing board. A new approach will be needed to address educational and infrastructure issues in the district's schools.

The question before the community is, "Where do we begin?"

We don't know the answer to that question, but we do believe in this community. And, we do believe we'll find our way.

Some of the discourse leading up to the vote was divisive, hurtful and personal. But much of it was informative and thoughtful.

We must encourage productive dialogue.

We know this community wants the best for its children. Now we've got to demonstrate that commitment through action - namely participation.

There are so many different ways to help, that surely each of can find an area to champion.

Parents need to spend more time discussing school with their children. Show an interest in their homework - you might even learn a thing or two. Spend more time in their schools and get to know their teachers. Attend school board meetings.

Those of you without children in the schools have much to contribute. Senior citizens can share the skills they picked up over the years by offering to mentor a youngster. Younger adults can become involved in extracurricular activities through our schools and Boys and Girls Club and Girls Inc.

Business owners can offer internships and support learning initiatives such as Eco15 that match educational offerings with workplace needs.

Teachers who work incredibly hard need to challenge their students and attack each school day with enthusiasm. We know that can be a challenge when you're trying to corral all of that youthful energy.

School administrators must hire the best teachers, and pay them well.

We all should support the extra-curricular activities offered by our schools. Attend cultural events. Cheer on the local athletic teams. Volunteer as a judge at an academic competition.

Now, it's time to demonstrate that even though differences remain we can move forward together. Recognizing that good ideas came from both sides of the debate is the first step of the journey.

One thing is certain. We share the same goal ... providing our kids with an excellent education.