To the Editor:
Much has been said and printed about the upcoming bond referendum facing voters on May 6. There are intelligent, passionate arguments on both sides of the table. Issues revolve around tax increases and consolidation. Because of inflation, tax increases are inevitable. Things just cost more than they did in the past.
Each property owner’s taxes will increase based on the taxable value of their property. A property with a taxable value of $40,000 will increase about $11 per month. In addition, people with household incomes below $50,000, that qualify for the Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit, will get up to 60 percent of any property tax increase refunded to them by filing a Homestead Property Tax Credit form.
The bond referendum and consolidation are two separate issues. They are not mutually exclusive. The referendum can pass and consolidation can still occur. In fact, the passing of the referendum may enhance the possibility of consolidation.
The real issue is the educational opportunities that we offer our students. Our students are being forced to compete for 21st century jobs with 20th century technology. Only minor changes have been made in our technology infrastructure since the 1994 renovation. Twenty-year-old technology is now limiting our students’ ability to compete with students in other parts of the Michigan and the U.S.
In the 2014-15 school year, the state of Michigan will require that all standardized testing be completed on-line. Our current computer network is not adequate to allow this. Slow downloads and freeze-ups are common place during the school day now. Our students will be at a distinct disadvantage when taking these tests. These tests are used to determine college admissions and scholarship monies. A “yes” vote on May 6 will allow the required upgrades to be in place for the 2014-15 school year. If we wait for consolidation to take place it will be at least two or three years before these upgrades can be implemented and they will cost more. Why wait? Students in other parts of the state are already using state of the art technology. Our students need these changes as soon as possible.
In the past the Bessemer Area School District voters and business community have been very supportive of our schools and community. Rarely have either said “no” when asked to help. Our students need our help again. Vote “yes” on May 6.