What in the world is the huge hurry to try and beat the June 30 deadline all about? Does the School Building Committee and Board of Education have some stake in meeting the June 30 state imposed deadline for additions and renovations?
I find it hard to believe that we have to run off in a ditch just to meet this deadline with the idea that the state of Connecticut will never ever offer such a rebate again in the future. On May 5, the taxpayers of this town sent a resounding vote rejecting the proposed school building renovation project, which would have packed a knock-out punch for some taxpayers based on the $47 million proposal. Today is May 22 and I see online that the Board of Education and Ad Hoc Building Committee decided to scale back the project by $4 million to $9 million and present that to the selectmen in hopes to get another shot at a vote before June 30. Has the committee even taken the time to lick their wounds from the resounding beating the voting taxpayers gave them? Have they bothered to research what the taxpayers did or didn’t like about the previous proposal?
I was quite surprised to see that with the revised project we get a “20 year as new life expectancy.” What were we getting for our extra $4 million to $9 million, a 22 to 25 year as new life expectancy?
Seems that in the early to mid-1990’s there was a project that renovated the schools, supposedly to help increase the tax base, and bring the buildings up to code, thereby providing our children with a better education. I bit the bullet on that project and dutifully paid my taxes, increases and all. Where is all the tax base that project supplied?
Shortly after opening it was discovered that the gym didn’t meet building codes as built. I don’t recall the state of education as advertised by the real estate companies back then, but even when I was at Wheeler as a student if you applied yourself you could get into college. Not much has changed in that regard — I think the education system is still respected in the area. Now I find out that the 1990’s building project has apparently reached its life expectancy, and I need to pony up with my family’s hard-earned and scarce extra cash for a project that again will be obsolete in 20 years or less. Something just doesn’t seem right to me.
Twenty years from now I will be in my seventies and I have every intention of still residing in the house my wife purchased in 1979. I hope by then to be in some state of retirement, and I expect I will have much less earning power. However if the people of this town don’t start being more responsible with my taxes, they may price me right out of town. My wife has lived in town since her purchase, and I grew up in town, played Little League here, made lifelong friends here and enjoyed the whole aspect of growing up in a small town.
I read in a letter to the editor on May 9 that Mr. Patton felt that the people who voted “no” were somehow “Appalachia-like,” which leads me to infer he believes “Appalachia-like” is less than acceptable? I am sure that there are a lot of people from the Appalachian region of the country who would like to have a conversation with Mr. Patton to understand exactly what he meant. I feel sad for him that he thinks just because we disagree that we are somehow less than him in what he perceives as his station in life. I think that if that is the kind of education and values he hopes to provide to our children through these school improvements, that we should vote no.
I for one am not in the least impressed with his comment. I don’t want to come across as against “any” improvements, I just want to be sure that the millions of dollars are well spent, reasonable and that the people of North Stonington won’t let this group of people bully them into a project that is thrown together just to beat a deadline. Please take some time to communicate throughout this process. Let’s make this project something that everyone can somehow live with, not just beat deadlines.
The writer is a 1976 graduate of Wheeler High School
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