McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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January 7, 2011

Letter to the editor: Maintained with Band-Aids

McALESTER — As a proud citizen of McAlester, I’d like to ask the voters of the McAlester School District to join me in going to the polls on January 11 and voting yes!

For 42 of the past 48 years, I have called McAlester my home. Beginning in the fourth grade, I attended all of the rest of my school years in McAlester schools and I’m a graduate of McAlester High School. Both of my children attended all of their school years in McAlester and are also graduates of McAlester High School. I love McAlester and am proud to say that McAlester is my hometown.

While we have always had and continue to have a great school system with many dedicated teachers and administrators, our buildings and facilities have been maintained with Band-Aids for many years. In fact, 15 out of 16 of McAlester’s school buildings and facilities were built between 1921 and 1973. McAlester Public Schools has the oldest functioning gymnasium of all 5A schools in Oklahoma. It was built in 1947.

Our community benefits by having a school system that has buildings and facilities of which we can be proud. When individuals, businesses, and industries look at a community for possible relocation, they look at the school system. They may look at and ask questions about the quality of education being offered in the community, but much of their decision is based on what they see in the school system’s buildings and facilities. This plan will create a tomorrow for our community in which we can be proud and which can support future growth for our city.

Someone commented that our school just needs to live within its budget and not be trying such an aggressive program as this one. Our school does live within its budget — but, in Oklahoma, the way that school buildings are built and facilities upgraded and remodeled is primarily through sinking funds. Schools of similar size to McAlester have a millage rate of 23 for their sinking fund. McAlester’s sinking fund is at zero. Over the years, we have been spoiled by the generosity of individuals in our community who have supported our schools. In fact, over the past 30 years, we as taxpayers have only voted $2,740,000 in bonds for our sinking fund.

I realize that we are currently in the midst of very challenging economic times. However, I believe that now is the time for us to make an investment in the future of our school system and, in fact, our city by voting yes on January 11. Let’s view this bond issue, not as a tax increase, but as an investment in the future for our kids and for or community.

As a former member of the McAlester Board of Education, as a parent of children who have graduated and have made good use of the education they received here in McAlester, and as an educator involved in economic development through my job at Kiamichi Technology Center, I’m ready for a brighter tomorrow for our community.

This bond issue is a step forward for McAlester Schools. If not this plan, what plan? If not now, when? Let’s vote yes for our kids and for our community on January 11.

 

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