The school board should approve the full referendum


To the editor:

I am writing today because I am very concerned about the newest proposal to reduce the scope of the referendum. As a taxpayer the first thought is “oh, good news, taxes won’t go up as much!” But this is not good news. In this newest proposal up for a vote on Oct. 9, only minimal funds are allocated to investments at the high school.

This is in fact very bad news for kids and parents.

The high school is already beyond overcrowded. Enrollment is expected to rise significantly over the next years so it is hard to imagine what will happen then.

Even this year only about half of the freshmen got to take classes in two electives; the rest has a free period. The school can simply not offer enough courses for all freshmen. Chances that a student will get into a computer science class are slim. Demand is high and the school can’t offer more classes since there are no more class rooms. The cafeteria is laid out for only about 400 kids, the school has 1,600 students who all have lunch at the same time. Best bring your own lunch, because waiting in line will take up the whole lunch period. And what about the maintenance issues? Classes that have to be evacuated because of mold, locker rooms that nobody uses because they are so unhygienic, the fact that the water from only one water fountain tastes right.

This is definitely bad news for students and their parents. But the proposal to delay investment in the high school is bad news for taxpayers as well.

Yes, we are going to save a bit of money in taxes over the next three years. But make no mistake, our school’s reputation will suffer. When the time comes, and we need to sell our houses, that is sure to impact the sale price. And then the money we saved in taxes, because the scope of the referendum was whittled down, will seem like very small change.

When I asked my son, who is a freshman at the high school, what he would say if I told him the town did not want to invest in the high school these next few years he compared the situation to the New York City subway. Do we really want to wait until the system is as bad as that?

And so I urge everyone: take a tour of PHS, ask a family with a high schooler what they think. Then write a letter to the Board of Education and tell them to continue with the referendum as originally planned!

Wiebke Martens