To the Editor:
At the Bessemer Area School Board’s March meeting, our superintendent (who lives in Ontonagon) demanded the people circulating consolidation petitions submit their plan for consolidation in writing to the board.
Nice try. Our anti-consolidation, tax-and-spend school board is trying to instruct pro-consolidation citizens on how to run their campaign. I hope they don’t suspend us when we don’t hand in their assignment.
Under state law, people circulating consolidation petitions don’t have to submit a consolidation plan or anything else to their board. The simple fact the state Department of Education approved a citizen request to start proceedings means we can bypass the board and march forth.
Bessemer’s board could have cooperated this last summer when we simply requested a survey to gauge community support. They said no. The Wakefield-Marenisco School Board conducted a survey last summer and the results showed that Wakefield-Marenisco citizens are interested in consolidation with Bessemer.
Our informal survey of petition circulators in both districts tells us that hundreds of citizens support consolidation and want to vote.
Nonetheless, Bessemer’s tax-and-spend school board is hostile to consolidation. They want to pass the buck, distort the facts and discredit any person or group supporting consolidation. With that, we’ll have nothing to do with them, particularly when they treat their pro-consolidation board members so shabby.
Further, by not even considering consolidation, the school board is shirking their duty to exercise due diligence. They’d rather ignore the issues of deficient curricula and the widening gaps in the abilities of our communities’ children.
That being said, we have a plan. We plan on public hearings, debates and a vote in August 2014. Citizens will make an informed decision.
If consolidation is approved by voters, a new board and the intermediate school district will have until July 2015 to study and professionally plan transition. The sky won’t fall. The Bessemer bluffs, Sunday Lake and Lake Gogebic won’t disappear. Our schools will improve.
If Wakefield and Marenisco can consolidate, Wakefield-Marenisco and Bessemer can. If a Washtenaw Willow Run school consolidation resulted in a $6.5 million transition grant from the legislature, be assured the intermediate school district and the state Department of Education will render substantial legal and financial assistance to our new school district.