Are our children worth one lunch out a month? - The Explorer: Editorials

Are our children worth one lunch out a month?

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Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 3:00 am

The Oracle School Bond issue is the right action at the right time. This bond will cover potential capital expenditures for the next 20 years at the Oracle School District. 

Is the next generation of children worth, at most, one lunch a month? Before you answer this question, please remember, children in elementary school now will be running the state and country when our children are seniors. 

Mr. Brinkley, in his editorial last week (“Anatomy of a bad bond – the cost is too high,” Oct. 26, 2011), said his taxes would go up about $185 annually. Using his numbers, which are about right for the maximum potential increase under this bond, that would be a little less than $15.50 per month on his home, apparently valued at around $400,000.

It could be less. Another missing fact from his article is that each bond expenditure will have to be individually approved by the school board. This is not a blank check for the Oracle School District. 

Where did this list of required projects come from? A small committee of residents from Oracle, SaddleBrooke, and Eagle Crest Ranch worked on this list for months. They toured, evaluated, researched, and evaluated some more. They took many items off the list, and prioritized the items on the list.

Will the seventh and eighth priorities ever get accomplished? Probably not, but at least they made the list. Others did not.

By law, bond money may only be used for capital improvements. Also by law, annual budgets, “maintenance and operations” monies, may not be used for capital improvements. The aging facilities require increasingly more maintenance, and will continue to take money away from the classrooms and the children’s education if not dealt with. 

At the Oracle School District there is an employee who is a part-time administrator and part-time teacher. She spends most of her administrative time writing grants for emergency funding from the county and state to pay for costly facility repairs. If she didn’t have to spend time writing these grants, she could spend more time in the classroom.

Now is absolutely the best time to do this. The longer we wait, the older the facilities get, and the bigger the bill we pass to the next generation. Also, the current recession makes materials and other costs the cheapest they’ve been or will be for a long time. 

The consultant fees Mr. Brinkley talks about as being so high also contain architect and engineering fees. These count for 10 to 11 percent of the costs. This is a bargain compared to what you would pay if you wanted to build a new house. The consulting firm, selected from several applicants through evaluation of bids, will receive 2 percent.

Look around the Southern Arizona area. You’ll see bond issues and school overrides on ballots in many places. Our State Legislature put us all in this position by cutting spending on education instead of closing loopholes on corporations and the upper income people in our state. Counties, towns and schools are left with no alternatives but to raise funds however they can. It was predicted, and now it’s happening.

One of the things that made America great was a willingness to sacrifice for the common good.  The education of our next generation should surely qualify. It’s surely worthy of one lunch a month.

Hollace Lyon resides in SaddleBrooke.

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