To the editor of THE EAGLE:
On Nov. 5, we in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District have a rare opportunity to approve the MSBA reimbursing 48.52 percent of construction costs to bring our 47-year-old high school into ADA and building code compliance and invest in our towns’ students for the next 50 years. A "No" vote requires the MSBA to release "our" funds to other school districts’ renovations. It takes 5-7 years to have a proposal reviewed; then 1-2 years developing a schematic design. Building costs and interest rates are now at historic lows.
As a BHRSD School Committee member, I urge everyone from our towns to visit monumentnow.org to fully understand this opportunity and the financial and educational costs of continuing to pay the inevitable expense of maintenance and repairs when problems arise. The $25 million reimbursement helps to:
* Replace all systems in need of upgrades in a timely and logical manner, not on an emergency basis.
* Meet building and accessibility codes.
* Bring safety, security and energy efficiency to current standards.
As a parent, I am proud of the education my two oldest sons received that prepared them for college and ultimately their careers. However, we must modernize the facility to ensure all our students will be prepared for the changing college and careers in the 21st century. The new STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) addition will impact and adapt education to 21st century needs, and save almost $1 million in temporary trailer costs by staging the construction in a manner least disruptive to students and teachers. Studies show that students moving from an adequate to superior school realize a 5-10 percent increase in performance.
Although only one of my four children will fully benefit from this renovation, as a taxpayer, I urge your support to keep our schools at a level where people must live in one of our towns in order to be ensured a spot in our highly regarded and coveted school system. Families recently have had to move into our district to enroll their children in grades closed to choice. Additionally, in Massachusetts, a "$500 increase in per-pupil expenditures increases home prices by 2.2 percent." (Quarterly Journal of Economics).
Please become informed about the cost of a "No" vote on Nov. 5. The need for large capital upgrades at our high school will not go away. But, the $25 million MSBA reimbursement will be lost after Dec. 31, 2013, without a majority vote of approval on Nov. 5. JOHN KRAHM
The writer is a member of the Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee Building & Grounds Subcommittee