To the Editor:
All of us in Bessemer are confident and proud that our schools rank among the region’s best. That’s quite a testament to the teachers and parents that make education such a high priority for our students.
But the job of educating our kids becomes more difficult every year. Our two schools have old and very inefficient mechanical and lighting systems and building controls, roofs and windows that have become excessively expensive to continue repairing. They are wasting energy and money that could be used to help educate our students.
That’s why the school board recently approved placing a $4.9 million bond referendum before district voters on May 6. If approved, we will bring our schools up to 21st century standards with a new information technology network and more computers for our students.
The bond will provide new security systems, protecting students, teachers and property. It will also upgrade our heating and ventilating systems, building environmental controls, replace roofs, windows, retrofit our lighting systems and develop a water conservation program. Those efforts will help save the district about $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years. The project manager has guaranteed the savings. This money will be used to pay for educational and extra-curricular programs that might otherwise go unfunded.
This project will eliminate lead and asbestos that threatens the health of our students, teachers and staff.
The cost to the average district homeowner will be about $8 a month. By acting now, we will save money in the long run. Our building systems are only getting older and will cost more to replace later. I invite you to stop by and see the condition of our current infrastructure.
Other alternatives such as combining the two schools onto one campus offer tremendous challenges and even higher costs. I’ve heard suggestions about consolidating with a neighboring district. But I don’t think Bessemer parents want to cede total control over their schools or face the possibility of having their children travel greater distances to another campus.
The decision to move forward with this bond referendum was not made lightly. It is the result of in-depth studies and planning. I’m convinced it gives Bessemer Area Schools the best opportunity to move forward with our mission of preparing our children for the challenges of life after high school graduation.
Superintendent, Bessemer Area Schools