LETTER: On November 8, Please Support the SAS Bond Issue

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To the Saline Post:

I am the founder of an engineering business in Saline and the proud father of two students in Saline Area Schools. Our family chose to make Saline our home for many great reasons: Saline is a safe and thriving community and its schools have a reputation for excellence. Since we’ve been here, we’ve been proud to see the community grow, and I am convinced that my kids are getting a great education in Saline’s schools.

That said, having visited other districts, I am also convinced that our already very good schools could be better. SAS has dedicated teachers, administrators, and staff, but we lack facilities that are commonplace in comparable districts. For example:

Hundreds of SAS students pursue science and technology-related activities such as the Science Olympiad and FIRST Robotics competitions, which help build their knowledge and self-confidence. Other districts have dedicated facilities (and sometimes faculty) to support those pursuits. By contrast, SAS teams work out of classroom corners, store their projects in broom closets, and borrow gyms “after hours” if sports teams are not using them. We can do better than that.

Likewise, students in certain vocational training programs (such as cosmetology) have little or no dedicated space to learn their craft. We can do better for those students as well.

Another example: the high school gym has no air conditioning, which creates problems in warmer months. As temperatures rise, we will need to do better than that. More generally, there are many improvements and repairs that are necessary to maintain and improve our schools’ aging facilities.

Fortunately, we have an opportunity to do better and support our students. In November, Saline voters will have the opportunity to vote on an SAS bond issue. This bond is a renewal of a bond that for several decades has funded significant improvements and repairs that have benefited generations of students. The renewal asks for 0.5 mils less than the prior bond, reducing the amount that homeowners already pay by an average of $100/year while generating $180M to make improvements and repairs.

There has been debate on this bond: residents have expressed their frustration with what they see as inefficiencies, fluctuating enrollments and rankings, and so on. Some have suggested that bonds don’t fund teachers, aren’t about the “three Rs,” and don’t improve education. Others say that if they are tightening their belts, why not the schools? I know these concerns are expressed in good faith, but I’d suggest that our community should recognize the following basic principles:

  • It is in everyone’s best interests that our children — those who hold the future of Saline and beyond in their hands — have the best education and opportunities we can possibly provide them.
  • Our schools’ quality and reputation directly affects the health and well-being of our town. High quality schools attract and retain families, businesses, and jobs, and the associated tax bases. Our home values are directly correlated with school system quality.
  • Funding of schools is a shared community responsibility. We need to invest wisely for the future and not be distracted by short-term.
  • The proposed bond provides extensive funding to enhance our schools while reducing our personal tax burdens.

For more than a year, the SAS leadership has researched, planned, and prepared for this bond issue. I have been impressed by their attentiveness to community concerns, by their concrete plans for the use of this funding, and their transparency community members. As an engineer, businessperson, community member, and parent, I am 100% in favor of the bond and I will be voting for it on November 8. I urge everyone in our community, with or without children in SAS, to join me and vote in favor of renewal. Great schools are at the heart of any great community: making an investment to strengthen those schools while getting a tax reduction seems like a no-brainer to me.

Sincerely,

Mitchell M. Rohde, PhD

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