Response to Letter to Editor
A recent letter to the editor brought up a number of points that I would like to respond to.
The letter writer is correct, WEM will not close its doors if the referendum does not pass, we will continue to provide high quality education for our students. Nearing the end of 15 years on the school board, I can say we have never talked about closing nor threatened closing our schools. However, facilities don’t last forever, and they must be maintained.
The community survey we conducted last spring is a statistically valid, scientific survey conducted by a reputable consultant. It is representative of the overall population’s opinions. People told us what items they would support, and what price tag they were willing to support. We listened to resident’s opinions when creating this plan. Written comments were shared with the board but delayed so private data could be redacted.
In all of our surveys residents tell us they want more information. School board members and administrators are all very busy so we chose to hire a communication firm to help us get information out to residents. The company we hired recently worked with Cleveland and came highly recommended.
There are many reasons why adding four preschool classrooms to the elementary school makes more sense than using the Elysian School. One reason is that we have a great relationship with Tri-Valley Headstart who we lease the Elysian building to for roughly $80,000 per year. Over 20 years that is $1.6 million of revenue vs. the elementary addition expense of $2.2 million.
The 40% ag tax credit on school building bonds is a law with no sunset date. While it is correct that it is not guaranteed it would take specific action by the legislature and governor to repeal. The law had bi-partisan legislative support.
The 10-year enrollment forecast does predict decline – of only ten students per year. This year we saw a 4% increase. We feel that our enrollment is stabilizing and has potential for slow growth because our education statistics, from graduation rates to state test scores are stronger than our neighbors. But they have better facilities. Investment in our facilities will keep resident students enrolled in our district.
The letter writer is correct that we did not investigate modular classrooms, the reason being that the majority of the board did not believe that was the direction we should go. We are striving to keep students safe by building secure entrances and ensuring other doors are closed, locked and monitored – portables increase security risks. Portables are a challenge to keep warm and cool. Portables require students to come inside to use restroom facilities, taking time away from instruction.
Please reach out if you have any other questions or concerns