Pete Bergmann: Our kids, our community: the right investment now

A strong educational system is the foundation of a strong community.

After extensive review and community input, the District determined that in order to educate the students of the 21st Century, the district would need help from the community.

Moffat County School District's aging facilities are in need of repair, renovation, and safety and energy efficient upgrades. Craig Middle School is 60 years old. The average age of our District's six schools is 42 years old. Educational needs of our children cannot be met adequately with such facilities. If the bond issue fails, the district's ability to address its capital needs (equipment and facility repairs) will be reduced to absolute essential maintenance and equipment purchases. We will be forced to use money from our operational budget (salaries, supplies, utilities, services) to meet capital needs, requiring the district to function with less staff, fewer programs and larger class sizes.

In order to address the situation, the School District identified what investments needed to be made with these five guiding principles in mind:

• Investments need to ensure that major facility improvements are addressed

• Investments need to advance district student achievement goals

• Investments need to improve security measures and enhance student safety

• Investments need to modernize educational technology

• Investments need to be made in a fashion that will ensure the cost to the taxpayers are reasonable

The large-scale repairs and renovations identified for completion with the passing of the bond election simply cannot happen with the present level of funding. Our leaky roofs, obsolete lighting and inadequate heating and ventilation systems cannot be put on hold indefinitely. Our 30- to 60-year-old buildings simply need work. The longer we delay repairs and upgrades, the more costly and frequent repairs become.

We are already in a position where we cannot buy parts for many of our antiquated heating and ventilation systems.

Our existing technology infrastructure and classroom computers are inadequate and rapidly growing obsolete. Students and teachers will be unable to utilize the educational resources that are critical in achieving the academic requirements needed to succeed in today's world.

On Nov. 6, in order to achieve this goal, Moffat County School District voters will be asked to approve ballot issue 3A, a $29.5 million bond issue that will:

• Repair our school facilities to extend the life of the buildings and reduce energy and maintenance costs by upgrading heating ventilation and lighting, and replacing roofs where needed

• Increase safety by constructing secure entrances at each building, along with bringing fire protection systems up to code,

• Upgrade our technology infrastructure and replace outdated classroom computers

• Construct new classrooms and other interior spaces at Craig Middle School to improve the educational facility, while preserving existing auditorium, gym, and shop areas

• Renovate and retrofit the existing Craig Intermediate School campus and the three existing elementary schools to include preschool through fifth grade

The financial impact for residents of Moffat County, on a $150,000 home will be about five dollars a month. Also, what's important to know is that due to TABOR, as County assets increase, the initial bond mill of 5.115 will continue to decline. The mill will sunset in 20 years, which is the length of the bonds.

One of the five guiding principles that led to the District's decision to present a bond question for Capital Projects, was that the tax impact had to be reasonable. We understand that "reasonable" has a different meaning to different people, but for less than the cost of a cup of coffee per week, we will be able to support our schools. This is a reasonable price to pay for high-quality schools.

The last time Moffat County School District asked the community to approve a bond issue to upgrade facilities and build Moffat County High School was nearly 30 years ago in a 1978 bond election. These bonds were paid off in 1995, and the District has been debt free for the last 12 years. Historically, our community has shown a willingness to support a well thought out plan with a reasonable tax increase. The plan before the voters Nov. 6 provides the best opportunity for Moffat County Schools and the community to continue to thrive. Believe in a better Moffat County and support our kids and our community. Vote YES on 3A. It is the right investment. Now!

Lastly, please visit the Web site OURKIDSOURCOMMUNITY.COM for more information.

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