On Tuesday October 17th from 6am to 8pm Bethel, residents will vote on the $65.8 million project to renovate Rockwell Elementary and Johnson School.
Currently, neither facility is compliant with key provisions of the Americans with Disability Act, and both are in need of major repairs and upgrades. Quality public schools are a vital component to ensuring that our students can compete in the American job market and on the global stage. It is time we do what is best for our students and vote yes.
The town has applied for a state grant that could cover 45 percent of eligible costs, and even with the uncertainty of the state budget crisis, Superintendent Christine Carver expects that the state will approve a waiver that could give us a higher reimbursement.
This is a reimbursement rate we may never see again.
It’s important to note that school construction funds are different than the Education Cost Sharing Grant funding, which could be slashed by the Governor’s Executive Order.
We all understand that this won’t be an easy lift. Any decision that directs taxpayer funds to support specific programs and initiatives must be carefully considered. But, voting no for school renovation funds on October 17th, will only kick the can down the road. Taxpayers will still have to pay an estimated $29 million over the next several years to make the necessary repairs and modifications to bring the aging buildings up to code.
Voting yes is the most fiscally responsible and cost effective thing to do for current and future residents.
I am Bethel raised, and I graduated from Bethel High School. I may not currently have children in our public school system, but you do not have to remind me why I should care about the education of our neighbor’s children. Strong, quality public education creates stronger, more viable communities, helps to drive local economies and improves the well-being of all Bethel residents – a goal to which we are all committed.
I urge you to join me and vote yes on next Tuesday’s referendum. Let’s ensure that our students have everything they need to succeed.
We’ve got one shot.