April 26, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 98

Bessemer bond proposal a good option

To the Editor:

My name is Bob Berg, president of the Bessemer Board of Education. I feel it is very important at this time to bring you up to date with information concerning the Bessemer Area School District and the current bond issue.

Before the current proposal, there were many in-depth alternative plans that were explored and investigated before the present suggested proposition that was put in place for a bond consideration.

Some of the considerations, such as building a new school or combining the Washington School with the high school, were eliminated early on because they were cost prohibitive. A new school is estimated at $15 million to $18 million. Combining schools is estimated to cost approximately $12 million.

Even if consolidation was an option, we would still need to renovate in order to accommodate changes in our student population and to meet the current state requirements and safety standards. In the 1990s, when the first renovation process took place, decisions on what would be done fell directly in line with the budget that was available to us at that time. Now, 20 years later, it’s time to do our part again and update so our schools continue to remain the best.

Some suggestions have been voiced as to why we do not extend our current bond that could generate up to approximately $900,000. Unfortunately, once all fees and other related costs are subtracted, the district would not have the entire amount to expend on building improvements.

This scenario would only allow very minimal upgrades to our facilities and fails to address our greatest needs. It would not be enough to replace infrastructure, boilers, purchase and install security systems, fix wiring, etc. Additional costs that would also not be included in that scenario are new buses and our current outdated air exchange system. These are just some of the most important aspects of the new bond proposal.

We currently educate close to 100 students that come to us from neighboring communities, contributing almost $700,000 to our schools. They choose us because of the education they receive. In order for us to continue to attract these students, we must make every effort to have the condition of our buildings match the high quality education the students are currently receiving within them.

Finally, I would like to thank our teachers, staff and school board for the wonderful job they are doing to bring the best education to our children.

Bob Berg, president Bessemer Board of Education