Letter: Invest in future, to assure a future
On April 6, the Central Berkshire Regional School District will be voting on whether to build a new high school or not. I think this will be a watershed moment in the history of Dalton and the district. The importance of having a 21st century high school in terms of education, potential draw to the community, additional tax base, and additional business cannot be understated.
The school district is one of the first thing families look at when deciding where to move. The trickle-down effect brings in tax revenue, local business, and an overall vibrancy to the community. The local high school is the heart of many towns — academics, sports, theater all playing a vital role in people's daily lives.
Fortunately or unfortunately, things change. The way we were taught and learned 60 years ago is not the same as today. Housing, business, and schooling design have all changed, and that is OK. In fact is good. It is called progress.
At a recent meeting a gentleman who opposes the new school stated "Abe Lincoln learned to read and write by the fireplace." What if our predecessors all thought like that? We would all still be in a one-room schoolhouse. Thinking like that will doom a community. If you don't invest in the future, you will have no future.
The challenges of what a school needs to provide (whether we agree or not) dwarf those of yesteryear. The mandates for education, counseling, testing, resources, special needs, security, etc. are overwhelming. The physical building that was built back in 1961 does not meet the requirements of today.
The original Taconic High School was built seven years after WRHS and it has been replaced. Mt. Greylock Regional was built within one year of WRHS and it has been replaced. It is just time for a new school.
WRHS is in disrepair and needs a lot of work (new boiler, new roof, new windows, etc.) The physical building is inadequate in many ways. The building committee has spent years doing studies and looking at all the viable options to meet the needs while being fiscally responsible. It has determined the best solution is a new school. If we do not build a new school, we just keep throwing money in into a bottomless hole.
The state agrees that we need a new school and is willing to provide $32 million toward it. This has been a 10-year process. If we vote no we go back to the end of the line and have to start the process all over. This is our taxpayer's money that will go to another school district if the new school is not approved.
No one wants to spend more money or pay more taxes. But what is the alternative? If we vote no we are still going to have to repair the school ($35-$40 million) and our taxes will go up and we get no assistance from the state. And we will still be stuck with an outdated, aging, inadequate school.
We had a choice of where to raise our family and looking at the school system in each town was a major part of our decision. Dalton is a great town with lots of support from the surrounding towns — all together they make up CBRSD. Thankfully we have had a wonderful experience with CBRSD. We would like to pay it forward to the next generation. Hopefully our district will take pride in what we will be doing for future generations.
A great quote that I think is fitting as we make our decisions: "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago" — Warren Buffett.
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