To the editor:
In the handful of years I have lived in Baker County I have observed several things. One, that most residents of our county, including voters, care about our county and its infrastructure, including schools. Two, that residents/voters do not make decisions based upon emotional argument. They make those decisions the same way they do decisions about their ranches, farms, or other businesses. If it doesn't make sense economically it will not garner support.
Funding for schools, via a ballot measure, needs to come back to the voters as soon as possible. Any further delay in correcting the physical plant problems of our schools will cost more than if construction began today. But what comes back to the voters must not be a measure which resembles Measure 34 or its predecessor. The voters have, in an increasingly resounding manner each time, rejected the andquot;build newandquot; approach. It is time for a compromise. A realistic compromise is one which solves many (perhaps not all) of the problems of the middle school and provides some funds to deal with the physical plant problems known to exist at other Baker City schools.
One way to achieve the compromise that most will support and to earn approval of a tax measure containing sufficient funding, is to focus on upgrading those portions of the middle school complex needed to support a realistic student population. Addressing what number of students is likely over the next 25 years will yield a much lower number than Measure 34 was predicated upon. History tells us our county's population doesn't vary much. Common sense should tell us any increase in population is most likely to come from retirees and transplants who do not have children of school age.
Baseball taught me that three strikes means you are out. The third ballot measure on this subject, if defeated, would be the third strike. Let's not let that happen. It is time for the build-new proponents to adopt a more realistic and effective approach. Offer us something which improves (maybe not perfectly) the plight of the middle school and provides maintenance funds for the other schools as well.