New school is cheaper, better in long run

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2004

The debate over a new high school is heating up. The issues are complex, emotions are running high and there is much information to digest. There is considerable unavoidable uncertainty and those on either side of the issue are forced to make projections that can result in very different outcomes. Who to believe?

While there's much we can't know at this point, there is much we do know: We are now exceeding the capacity of our current structure. We have state money now to reimburse 60 percent of construction costs (and no clear indication of if or when such an opportunity might be repeated). Voters have more than once indicated their readiness to cover the cost of the remaining 40 percent. If we delay, construction costs will increase.

The building of a new school is a lengthy process. Between the project's start and finish, conditions (enrollment, costs, economic climate, etc.) will not stay constant. You make the best projections you can with the information at hand, involve the community in the process, remember that you're planning for the long haul (not just the next few years), then move forward with confidence and optimism. I believe we have made a carefully considered decision here and it's time to move on with it. I appreciate the uneasiness that goes with such a big undertaking (I feel it myself), but the financial consequences of delaying or stopping may be far worse than moving forward in the long term.

Understand that neither a decision to proceed nor one to delay will result in more teachers and smaller class sizes. Instructional funding is an entirely different issue. Unless the Legislature increases instructional funds, we'll continue to have much too large class sizes whether we have one school or two. What if all the energy being expended on delaying the building of the new school was redirected to demanding that our legislators make adequate instructional funding a top priority! Then when that money comes through, we'd have the space to put those additional teachers and classes.

Please take the time to learn the facts, ask questions, consider the whole picture carefully before deciding to sign or not sign the initiative to delay progress on the new high school. Think 40 years out, not just today. Whatever side you're on, make a point to really hear the other side. It's the least we can do for our kids.

Jan Carlile


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