April 19, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 92

Bessemer proposal would update schools, buses

To the Editor:

On May 7, Bessemer voters will go to the polls to determine the direction Bessemer Area Schools will take in the year ahead. A total not to exceed $6.67 million is sought. If passed, the average community property will increase an additional $10 per month.

School buildings are old and need upgrades. Lighting and energy sources are aged. Boilers and buses are quickly approaching the end of usefulness. Security enhancements are strongly encouraged. If updated, both buildings have strong foundations with 35 potential additional years of service to students.

Prices have dramatically increased since 1994, when voter support resulted in a $3 million A.D. Johnston School project update.

The Consumer Price Index is up 53 percent since 1994, demanding $153 today to purchase what $100 secured then. Comparing 1994 to 2013: A pound of ground beef, $1.10 to $2.85; gasoline, $1.24 per gallon to $3.40-$3.75; an ounce of gold, $385, now some $1,400. Computers and TVs cost less, but little else has dropped in costs. Lunch in area restaurants (drink, sandwich, tip and tax) was $5.50 in 1994 and now exceeds $8.

Times change and school buildings age. After much study, review and discussion, the Bessemer School Board voted 5-2 to allow you, the voter, the opportunity to determine whether we update and upgrade school buildings, including security, heat, lights, roofs, buses, boilers and more to bring schools into the 21st century for district children.

Our schools have become outdated. Age and wear have eroded their effectiveness. Exorbitant money is spent on heating and electricity. Our students are transported to school in old vehicles, getting low mileage per gallon. Four-hundred-forty-five students count on us to be educated, with nearly 90 of them choosing Bessemer as their school of choice. With them comes their $7,000 foundation grant to support our programs.

In 1993, district voters approved a much needed bond proposal all children benefited from. Now, more than 19 years later, a new referendum is sought. Both current and future district school age children seek voter support for their educations. On May 7, you, members of the district’s voting public, will make the ultimate decision.

Al Gaiss

Bessemer Area School Board treasurer