Do we need new schools?

Do we need new schools? That is the “million dollar question.” Two problems have been brought to the public for reasons to go into debt to build new schools.

One, that the buildings are so old, and two, that some schools are too big now for the amount of students attending them and some school have larger attendance. Let’s look at the school size first; why not move K-6 grades to the Middle School and move grades 7-12 to the Senior High? Problem solved! Some have been beating the drums for years to get all students under one roof and that would solve both of those problems. I for one am not a big fan of cramming all of the children into one campus. I feel local community schools give pride and ownership to communities.

Now, age: how many of you reading this article either live in a home or work in a building way older or as old as our schools? Funny how we are able to keep using these buildings and Marietta Schools are not! I believe we were told a few years back that Marion, Fairview Heights, and Oak Grove schools were in such bad shape, too expensive to fix, only to now be used as schools.

Now, how were they able to be fixed up without tax payer money? I will tell you. The same way we are able to keep our homes and work places livable – when something is broke, we fix it. I’m wondering that maybe we are being fed the same story about our schools now. Look at our churches in Marietta; way older than our schools, but when has a church told their members that the church is too old to use and they need to move and build a new one? How are they able to keep them going and without tax payer money?

I am also confused at the cost for everything. It keeps changing. And how much is the 49 acres plus getting the land ready going to cost? Is that figured into the levy? What about a gym and auditorium? Are students going to be driven back and forth to the old school for gym or are we going to be hit with another levy in a few years to build new ones? Now we are hearing $55-$65 million and there are already nine levies we pay for now, and two are for the schools. Everybody pays 70-75% to schools now with your property tax.

This levy is for 37 years. Anyone over 50 will most likely be dead before the levy is paid off, and children starting kindergarten will be middle aged before it is paid off if this levy goes through. The economy right now is good but in 37 years, what if it isn’t and you lose your job, pension, savings, retirement? You will still have to pay for this debt even if you can’t pay for anything else or you lose your home.

Think about this! Look how schools and education has changed in 10 years. Who is to say that in 37 years we will even need a building? So many children are now going to online classes and charter schools. A friend of mine made a good statement, “It’s not the building that makes the student – it is the teachers. Maybe we should invest in them!”

Carol Pabst