District hasn't done its homework

October 24, 2007 12:00 am

To the editor:

Most everyone agrees that something needs to be done about our Baker City Middle School.

The school board tells us that they have done an "apples to apples" comparison of the costs of rebuilding vs. new construction, and that the best way to go in to build a new school. However their report leaves out some things. I've thought of three, and undoubtedly there are others.

First, there's the matter of that $600,000, the cost of extending College Street out to where the new building would go up. The board wants us to believe that the city of Baker City will cover that cost. But it doesn't really matter which governmental body finances the street extension. Either way, the money will come from the same pockets — local taxpayers.

If a new school is constructed, the existing buildings will sit there, empty. But they will still need a certain amount of maintenance, keeping the grass watered and mowed, replacing broken out windows, etc. Otherwise, they will degenerate into a weedy, neglected eyesore. This will be an expense of thousands of dollars a year stretching out indefinitely.

On the other side of the ledger, there are grants available for updating and remodeling historic buildings. A $5,000,000 grant for remodeling would change the whole complexion of this issue. Perhaps that figure is overly optimistic, but no one seems to have checked out this possibility.

We have been given a hurriedly slapped-together incomplete report. It has been pointed out, using the consulting architect's own figures, that remodeling the old high school building would cost less than new construction while fulfilling the requirements for a safe place in which our children could receive their education for many years into the future.

For the reasons listed above, I have already voted "no" on the bond issue, and urge you to do the same.

Pete Sundin

Baker City