I'm always surprised when the local paper actually prints anything I write to them, whether in paper or pixels. Here's a comment in pixels from The Daily News for 31 August 2007.
It's really an extension of some discussion that began over on Boots and Sabers when Owen, rather astonishingly, suggested that West Bend didn't have the discipline or need to clean up the crappy conditions our kids are forced to call their alma maters. You can find that discussion here.
Anyway, I dropped a note to the paper and the electronic version came out like this:
Columnist wrong about referendum
I have a bone to pick with my friend Owen Robinson about the West Bend School District referendum. He’s simply wrong about how important it is for us to suck it up and do the right thing.
The buildings where our kids go to class are 67 years old on average. The last building opened was the high school in 1970, 37 years ago. There's no insulation in the roof of Silverbrook and all of the buildings are chock full of asbestos. A lot of them have heating systems that are 60 years old and some don’t even have adequate sprinklers for fire safety.
The list of "things we should’ve done 20 years ago" goes on and on. All that helped me decide we’d better get to work and clean up the mess.
But there was a surprising plus. It struck me like this: "So if I’m responsible, my taxes for education will still be ‘lower’ than anyone else’s in the state? No brainer. Let’s go."
Owen seems to have miscalculated just how crowded things already are, something critical to understand why we have to do something now, and not duck this or hand it off to our children.
Owen suggests the referendum is a lot of hand-wringing for an increase of only 432 kids. He missed by almost 4,000.
The number of students using the schools has actually doubled since 1970. Today twice as many students walk through the halls as did in 1970, about 3,800 more. Add the additional 400 students projected over the next five years and the School District will be accommodating something closer to 4,200 more students than they originally built for.
Imagine doubling the traffic in West Bend, and then imagine we still had to use Highway P to drive into Milwaukee. Think how crowded that would be. That’s what the schools are putting up with. That’s what our kids are putting up with. I hate driving on Highway P.
So, imagine driving down the new Highway 45 and imagine the new Highway 45 still left your taxes at the lowest rate in the state.
That’s what the school district needs us to do. Add some extra lanes and still pay the lowest mil-rate in the state. It’s a great idea at a great price.
Not to do this is fiscally and -- and I know I keep coming back to this, but it's an occupational hazard -- ethically irresponsible to each other as neighbors. Americans have civic responsibilities. This is one of 'em and turns out to be a relatively inexpensive one.
The people who worked out what we need to do to bring the schools up to modern standards are conservative, hardheaded, pragmatic, and do not like spending their tax dollar any more than anyone else does -- and if this goes through they'll be paying a bit more of the share than the rest of us -- and they still insist that it's the best and most fiscally responsible route.
This too most certainly needs to pass.