To the Editor:
I’m a member of the Bessemer Area School Board. I proudly support consolidation with the Wakefield-Marenisco School District.
Consolidation means greater opportunity for all of our students. Many people want it. Bessemer’s school board doesn’t. They have another agenda.
Bessemer’s school board wants taxpayer approval of a highly questionable bond proposal. Taxpayers don’t want it. We can’t afford it. Voters said no last year, loud and clear. Bessemer’s school board wasn’t listening.
State transition funds are available if consolidation passes. I’ve seen it. It’s in writing. Paperwork from the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District shows they applied for state assistance.
State assistance is a legal way to buy new buses, computers, pay teacher salaries or offer buyouts for retirement. GOISD Superintendent Bruce Mayle and the district are doing their job.
Consolidation and state assistance can be done without school board approval. That’s how it works with Michigan’s laws when school boards like Bessemer’s won’t do their job.
If we consolidate, both school boards are dismissed. That helps. A new school board won’t put Bessemer first or Wakefield-Marenisco first. A new school board will put education first.
We’ll have plenty of time to plan transition. A new school board will have a full year to organize until the beginning of the 2015 school year.
Bessemer’s school board is obsessed with their district losing students or people losing their jobs. It’s all guesswork. A new district may add jobs if we need more teachers and staff. We don’t know yet. It makes no sense to spend $5 million on a 20-year bond when consolidation is the right fit. A consolidated district will have a larger tax base and more assets.
Consolidation will give all students more choices in studies, sports and extracurricular activities. Look at the Gogebic Miners football team and their great success. Players, parents and coaches love it.
Bessemer voters have to cast two votes to make consolidation something taxpayers in both school districts will support.
The first is to vote no on the bond proposal on May 6. Wakefield-Marenisco taxpayers don’t want to pay our bills and they shouldn’t. Since taxes can’t go up without voter approval, any tax increase for our schools should be made by voters in both districts.
The second vote is to approve consolidation on the August 2014 ballot.