Caring about our future

Dear Editor,

Why do so many school ‘new build’ supporters voice a message that suggests that voting for the current plan on the ballot equals caring about, and supporting children’s future, while not supporting this specific plan is not? Every non-supporter of the building bond that I know simply feels that this specific build is more expensive than this small, shrinking area can afford, not that we should do nothing to invest in the area’s and children’s futures.

There are legitimate concerns about the affordability of this plan. Despite anecdotes about strollers and a ‘baby boom,’ actual projections of our area show decline not growth (Vermont Joint Fiscal Office, Vermont Agency of Education, Vermont Dept of Health, U.S. Census, U.S. Dept. of Education, etc.). In the dismal economic state Vermont’s education fund is in, school construction aid should not be counted on to return. There is simply no money, no lobbying can change that.

Furthermore, fundraising has been weak. Between 2019 and today, the school district re-announced the “fundraising kickoff” a few times, maybe because so little had been raised. $3.5 million committed in five years does not give one confidence that this will ever be a major contribution. To me, this all shows that the first step in this project should have been to determine a budget based on what the tax base can reasonably raise — a true public project. The private aspect of this public project was a choice of the board, not the public, and it helps create the hope/belief in some other form of funding but not needing to count on it.

I would like to see the discourse on this issue be about actual data and fair-minded sentiments. It is unfair of people to say they support the build because they care, as if others don’t. And what about caring about the income inequality furthered by tax impacts, and about those that will have to move as a result? Homestead tax credit is not nearly enough to save many people’s fates.

I have to believe that supporters must not believe that such a tax increase will have a devastating impact on some individuals and perhaps the area. But with so much at stake, I would hope for consideration of an alternative path for a different construction plan after a “No” vote. Let’s build or rebuild a public building based on what we — the public — can afford.

Pamela Fraser,

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