We Need the Farwell Bond For Our Students

October 14, 2019

Dear Editor:
Farwell Area Schools, like most school districts, doesn’t usually have extra money on hand. So when large capital expenditures are needed to make major repairs like new roofs, new boilers, and building new facilites, they have to borrow money.

Farwell Area Schools is asking for the people of our community to vote on the November 5th bond proposal for a millage renewal and .9 mill increase. The last proposal in May came just 29 votes shy of passing. The school board went back and listened to those who had concerns about the 25-year duration of the bond, the scope of the project and the interest costs. The board took these concerns into consideration and scaled down the project by $4.4 million, reduced the term of the new bond by nearly 6 years and cut the interest costs by $8 million.

This bond proposal isn’t for luxuries – it’s for desperately needed repairs and replacements. It came from a list of needs developed by teachers, administrators, maintence and other staff who work in the school system. The district’s total needs exceeded $70 million. This was paired down to $54 million and then it was pared down again and again to where we are today with the most critical projects.

One of those is the old teach out wing. Built in the 1940’s, it is not an educational space anyone should want for their children. With just one outlet per class room they cannot keep up with today’s technology for the children’s learning, and making due with multiple extension cords is not safe. The class room sizes are very small and to do any up grade means the bathrooms in each would have to come up to code and that would use about 1/3 size of the already small rooms. This would restrict the use of these rooms to small group spaces, not classromms. The flooring has already collapesed in one section. The foundation has cracks and is in poor condition. The bond proposal would replace the 6 oldest, outdated class rooms in a failing wing with six new classrooms with working mechanical and HVAC systems, up to code bathrooms and appropriate electrical system.

Another is our old boiler system. There are eleven in the elementary school alone. These are very old and parts are very costly and difficult to come by. In the new proposal these ten failing boilers would be replaced with two highly efficient ones.

A reconfigured parking lot is also part of the project. It will make the pick up and drop off area to the elementary school much safer and will ensure there’s adequate parking so parents will no longer need to park in the church lot and their children won’t have to worry about getting hit. We’ve been fortunate not to have had any serious accidents, but that doesn’t mean our current elementary school drop off arrangement is safe.

For those parents whose kids have graduated, remember someone also helped pay for your child’s education when they were in the school system. Public education benefits society as a whole and increases the value of our community, state and country.

Also remember that the money raised from the bond can only be used for construction, maintience or infastructure. It is legally prohibited from being used for any operating expenses, including raises for teachers or other staff.

Over time buildings deterorate, things get old and you’re faced with questions on how best to proceed. This has nothing to do with school enrollment. We’ve been fortunate that the school maintanence has done such a wonderful job, often a very difficult job, keeping things that are old, breaking or collapsing in a working condition. The district is at a point where it is simply less costly to start replacing the old than trying to keep bandaging it up.

I am asking each and every voter who lives in our district to vote yes on Novembver 5th. You are doing the right thing for our children with your yes vote.

Shari Buccilli

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