To the Editor:
My response to the defeat of the Bessemer Area Schools referendum on Tuesday, May 7, was a mix of relief and concern.
I am concerned because our schools have deficiencies that desperately need to be addressed. The heating, ventilation and other infrastructural issues affect the health and well being of our children daily. The technological inadequacies are unconscionable in today’s data environment and leave our children at a disadvantage. Finally, in the wake of Newtown, Conn., and other tragedies, the lack of security makes me very nervous for the safety of my children.
However, I voted against the proposal. I attended the community forum, asked questions and spoke with district personnel in order to make the most informed decision I could at the polls. My decision to vote in opposition to the proposal stems from the information I gathered.
First, the money proposed does not correct all the issues associated with our schools. It does not bring them to code or address spatial limitations, among other issues. The money only patches the primary issues that the school board felt the voters would support. The figure offered to completely address all the issues, being the buildings to code and cover some staff requests is around $16 million. Secondly, this bond would last for the next 25 years and the figure for the longevity of the buildings is only 35 years with the patches associated with this bond.
I voted against the proposal because as a taxpayer and a parent, I believe our children and grandchildren deserve better than temporary, inadequate patches to failing buildings. I think we should consider the benefits of building a new facility. The benefits to our children are obvious. The benefits to our district would include a facility that matches the quality of our staff and an increased tax base as people moving to the area choose Bessemer to move to or build in to capture the benefit of the best school district and best facilities for their children.
It is an expensive option, but it won’t be any cheaper in the future and we won’t have thrown $6.67 million of good money away on a bad deal.