LETTER: School Bond: What is best?

To the Editor:

On Election Day, Nov. 6, we the citizens of the Rockford School District have a tough decision.

Approving the bond will result in a small increase in our respective property taxes that when combined, will provide the funds necessary to repair and improve our schools and allow us to continue to build on the positive momentum and changes. Rejecting the bond will force the District to continue to divert more funds from the operating budget to the maintenance budget as schools and facilities continue to age.

This unavoidable transfer of funds will result in further reductions to programs, activities, and facilities (ie. the closure of the middle school). It will also reverse our recent advances in enrollment as parents, students, teachers and administrators look for greener pastures in neighboring districts. Even a 5% reduction in student enrollment would be catastrophic to district finances.

Our District is well run and our District leaders have made a valiant attempt to cut their way out of this situation (fewer teachers and programs, outsourcing the cafeteria and buses, postponing repairs to the tennis courts, track and middle school gym, rendering them unusable, etc.).

We are in a position where we can’t cut our way to where we need to be. Either we invest, or we will launch into a cycle of cutting funding, teachers and programs over and over as building and grounds costs continue to increase.

We are very fortunate because interest rates and construction costs are significantly lower than normal. In addition, when the Bond passes the State will provide matching funds of about $6 million. This means that we can get more for every dollar we invest.

Like you, I’m not going to get a raise when the Bond passes so we’ll have to find something to do without but it’s a sacrifice that I am more than willing to make. For me the question is a simple one, “What is best for our children and the community?” The answer is equally simple… Approving the Bond is best for our children and our community.

Mark Smith