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Should Have Voted YES for VBHS

posted Nov 7, 2014, 8:36 AM by Carlee Schmelzer

Carlee Schmelzer

    As you have probably already guessed from the various signs littering road sides in Van Buren and the surrounding area, there will be a vote on the school levy on Nov. 4, 2014.  Last May, Van Buren School District residents voted down the $29.3 million levy. In the upcoming vote, the total project cost has been scaled back to $28.8 million in the hope that the levy will pass and Van Buren High School will get the remodel it so badly requires. The levy is intended to fund the demolition of the original Van Buren school building, built in 1918, and the construction of new classroom facilities. A new building would significantly reduce the need and cost of repairs in the crumbling building as well as promote the use of technology to learn in a more energy efficient school. At some point the building will need to be replaced and it is likely that construction costs will be higher in the future than they are now, all the more reason to vote yes in early November.

Constant and costly repairs are being made to the oldest part of the building with no hope of them being fixed without a complete remodel. According to yes4vbs.org, “-the district’s expenditures for maintenance and repair of the middle school and high school have been increasing, specifically the maintenance budget for 2014 fiscal year was 180% of the budgeted amount largely due to issues in the middle school and high school buildings.”  This means that the budget for repairs went over by about $130,000. This money is being spent on leaking roofs, asbestos removal, sewer system pipes collapsing, crumbling mortar and chimneys, and an HVAC system that was merged with the newer parts of the buildings causing ineffective heating and cooling. A new building would erase all of these issues and reduce the cost of repairs by a massive margin.

Furthermore, a school building built in this century would be very energy efficient, saving even more money. As the building stands, electrical wiring inadequate for the needs of a modern classroom since the netbook not had not been invented in 1918 much less taken into consideration, while the students at Van Buren use them all day long. The current heating and cooling system is severely energy inefficient and insufficient at doing their job. Building a more energy efficient school would mean a more effective learning environment for the students enrolled.

With the conditions at Van Buren worsening by the day, voting no on the upcoming levy would just be a delay of the inevitable. The fact is that buildings can only last so long before they completely fall apart and sooner or later money will have to be spent to restore Van Buren. Waiting any longer to make these changes helps no one as conditions worsen and repair costs will only go up.

There are at least three great reasons for passing the levy, with only one draw back, the cost. If the levy passes Van Buren School District residents will pay roughly $100 per month for the next 30 years, even when their children no longer attend school. Many people use this as their only excuse to vote no on the levy, but the cost may not be as significant as it seems if the value that a good school will add to their property is taken into account. One of the main factors in a flourishing re-sale market is the presence of a good school. The decline of a district can have a catastrophic impact on lowered property values. This economic factor is often overlooked by those that simply focus on the increased annual tax payment instead of the good that passing this levy could do for everyone involved.

Voting yes on the Nov. 4 levy is worth every penny. While the building is costly, the money will be made up in reduced repair cost and  energy efficient classrooms. The repairs needed can hardly wait any longer and the price to fix these repairs will only go up with time. In addition, an investment in your school is an investment in your property value, which will long outlive the initial cost of the school.  A vote yes for the levy is an investment in our youth and your real estate, one that will pay dividends far into the future.