To the editor:
Hats off to District 5J school board and the 25- to 30-member Task Force, representing all facets of our community, that have wrestled with restoration vs. new middle school for more than three years.
I take seriously the input of six qualified architectural firms. Five openly gave the same recommendation to build a new, one-level, safer, fully handicapped accessible building, meeting all modern structural and educational requirements. One voiced no opinion, but the six restoration options presented ranged from $4 to $11 million more than the $21 million new plan. The cheapest restoration plan was to restore only Central building, constructing a new gym on the south side that, even if stretched to the Court Street curb, would still have been 10 feet shy of regulation size. Think of the savings to be realized from maintenance, energy costs, and mandated infrastructure to a one-level building versus two buildings requiring astronomical restoration, and double heating, electrical, plumbing and elevator systems. Some points:
-- The new school will house grades 6, 7 and 8, freeing up room in elementary schools for full-day kindergarten.
n Access will be via an extension of College Street, estimated cost of which was based on early-on talks with Baker City staff, and is included in the proposed plan.
-- Present busing system picks up BHS and BMS students at all elementary schools, so transportation should not have to be substantially altered.
n $400,000 is included to acquire land.
Churchill School has been sold, a firm offer made for Helen M. Stack building, to be restored to another use, and a sealed bid received for the Central building. All proceeds will be held in reserve for unanticipated costs, a rainy day fund, and/or updates on elementary buildings.
n BMS and BHS, separated by the Sports Complex and tennis courts, will be in close enough proximity to share these facilities, and allow more efficient sharing of staff.
-- A new Middle School will add to community credence in attracting businesses, employers, employees and families.
I vote yes on Measure 34 supporting a new Middle School.