Let's make all schools better

November 02, 2007 12:00 am

To the editor:

For the last three and a half years, in stark contrast to their campaign slogans — "It's about the kids" and "There's no time to waste" — the School Board and the Middle School Task Force have done absolutely nothing to reduce or remove risks to Middle School students or improve their educational environment. If Measure 34 passes, they'll let another 18 months go by.

For well over a year, the Board has tabled a report as thick as a Portland phone book detailing problems of safety, health, security, accessibility and operations that are adversely affecting all of our students in all of our schools. Faced with deteriorating facilities that are unsafe, unhealthy, inaccessible, inefficient and not supportive of good education, the Board is asking the community to spend $40 million ($20 million plus interest) on a single new school and not one red cent on the others.

If Measure 34 passes, how much longer will the other schools have to wait for improvements and repairs? How much will educational quality decline in the meantime? Do our children have to wait 20 years until the Middle School debt of $40 million is repaid? Does the Board or the Task Force care? In the last election, the new school advocates at least included a token $1 million for the other schools. This time, nothing. Adding 14 new outdoor sport courts to a new school seems to be a better idea.

The Board and the Task Force have indeed wasted time. The question that should have been asked and answered is this: "How can we best improve and maintain all of our schools, District-wide, in a manner that improves the education and welfare of our children and is financially responsible?" Any plan that simply satisfies the imaginations of a few parents and administrators but does nothing for hundreds of our students and their teachers should be abandoned.

Vote "No" on 34 and let's get to work on a comprehensive and equitable solution for all of our children.

Jim Van Duyn

Baker City