Saline Area School voters have twice rejected school bond proposals. Many of the needs identified in these proposals have yet to be addressed. This past week, the school board received a facilities report addressing $50 million in needs at the same meeting where the board spent $450,000 of classroom money on technology upgrades.
There are four candidates running for two open six-year terms on the boards. Smita Nagpal, Diane Friese, Karen Delhey and Paul Hynek will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The candidates have paired off to run as teams, with Nagpal and Friese running as one team and Delhey and Hynek running as the other. Voters, however, are free to choose any two they wish.
See the candidates side-to-side when the Saline High School student group Students Reinvesting In a Valuable Education (STRIVE) hosts a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 25 at Saline Middle School.
Here is today's question:
Would you support or oppose a bond proposal to upgrade the bus fleet and address other infrastructure needs?
We have asked a lot from our community in recent times – for instance instituting fees for school clubs and sports, asking for 9 million dollars from teachers over the past two years, and 10 percent back from support staff, many of whom reside in our community. I would be cautious going out again to ask the community for additional dollars for the schools, and want to first take a look at other options for raising revenues. Specifically, are there ways to partner with city or area organizations and businesses to find the money for specific school district needs? It is true that buses do need upgrading and some roofs do need replacing. Buildings and transportation must be maintained keeping safety in mind. MPSERS reform didn’t give back as much as promised. If, after looking at partnering options, a bond proposal seems to be the only feasible option in terms of financing much needed infrastructure upgrades, I would support a bond proposal that identified the specific and limited infrastructure needs toward which the money would go.
I would support specific bond issues which promote our children’s safety and support our investment in the school system’s infrastructure.
The district’s bus fleet in one of the oldest in the county. We are most fortunate to have skilled mechanics that have kept the buses operational. They should be congratulated for their efforts. However, many buses are approaching the end of their ability to function. Replacing aging buses is a safety issue and should addressed.
While I don’t agree in principal with an increased financial burden on the hardworking taxpayers in this community, I do understand that given the current financial outlook and the state of our bus fleet and infrastructure needs a bond proposal may be necessary to accomplish what needs to be done to maintain our assets within the district.
I would support any bond issue that can specifically address identified needs within the district. Not making further investments to maintain our assets that we’ve already spent millions on, is in my opinion, irresponsible. Technology changes daily. We need to equip our students to compete at the next level. Saline’s reputation is not only academic, but based on our facilities as well. Buying two tickets to attend any local professional or collegiate sporting event probably costs as much or more than what would be added to individual tax bills to support a bond issue. Increasing the value of our schools will lead to increased value of our homes. I also understand for some of our citizens that this is an additional tax that they simply can’t afford, but as the economy improves hopefully this will become less of a burden with careful and thoughtful planning by the district.
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(This article was edited. The original post did not include the entirety of Paul Hynek's answer)