In Essence, this is all about our student-children

Tomorrow voters will decide whether or not to pass a bond that will offer our children better learning environments. This bond is desperately needed. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our children spend their days in classrooms that sit over stagnant water (sometimes stagnant sewer water). Almost all classrooms lack AC, and the heating system is so outdated that it is hard to find the right parts when things break down. To hear more stories about the compelling problems with the buildings, talk with our maintenance employees who have been with the district for over 30 years or WATCH THEM HERE

As I have walked around the community in support of this bond, I have come across many enthusiastic voters. I have also spoken with a few individuals who have shared their concerns with me. The three main concerns (sometimes connected and in no particular order here) seem to be:

-Cost

-Those opposed to Red Cedar and Schools of Choice (SOC)

-Those who want to see bigger schools built on the larger lots (meaning the closure of some schools)

On Cost: This brings us back to 7 mills, which was the capital debt tax rate for much of the past 17 years (and a couple of years it was higher than that). That tax rate is what allowed us to renovate our incredible middle school and high school. It is time to finish the job with our elementary schools. These children are our future. They deserve our investment.

On Red Cedar: When Red Cedar was closed, the board passed a resolution stating “That the Red Cedar Elementary School be reconfigured for educational purposes and remodeled to house: some pre-kindergarten and developmental kindergarten classes from across the district and for other educational purposes.” This bond fulfills a promise that accompanied the closure of Red Cedar. It allows us to expand our early childhood programming, which is something we desperately need to do in order to address our opportunity gap. In addition, when the board closed Red Cedar in 2012, it was unclear where MSU family housing would be rebuilt. We now know. It is within the old Red Cedar catchment area.

On SOC: Without Schools of Choice students we would be unable to maintain the schools and programming that we currently offer. If you want to fight privatization, start with charter schools and vouchers. Let’s work together. The system has to be changed at the state level.

On Closing Schools: The bond failed last time in part because it paired the closure of a school with the bond proposal. This bond rebuilds all schools (renovates one), assuring that the community will not be torn apart again over a school closure. I did not live here in 2012 when the last bond was on the ballot. I do have friends on all sides of that issue. The wounds from that closure and bond failure still run deep. It is time to heal and move forward together.

This bond is a compromise that was put forward unanimously by the school board (based on the hard work of the Community Bond Committee, which, despite rumors to the contrary, did include experts in many relevant fields!). Nobody has ever claimed that it is perfect in that we each agree with every detail. Its perfection lies in that each of us may walk away satisfied in the core of the proposal: new schools for our students, expanding our early childhood programming, bringing our community together, and putting forward a bond at a time when interest rates get us the best bang for our buck (there is only a 15.5% difference between this bond and the 2012 bond when interest rates are taken into account). There are many reasons to be excited about this bond.

Tomorrow is the opportunity for community members to come forward and to voice their support for our students and our future. I hope that you will join me in voting YES.



Erin Graham