Letter: Scare tactics, misinformation, about new WRHS plan

Posted

To the editor:

I recently attended a forum at the Dalton Senior center about the Wahconah Regional High School building project. The session was informative, open and generally supported with facts. However there was one glaring exception.

Bill Drosehn, chair of the Dalton Finance Committee, implied in his presentation that if the new school was approved, it would mean that Dalton would lose its full-time police force and that the State Police would have to provide coverage. In addition, it would mean that the highway department would not be able to provide services and maintain our roads. These words were meant to cause a great deal of distress to those in attendance and they did. How can the community make an intelligent decision concerning this major project if they are presented with opinions as opposed to actual facts?

I think that most everyone is in agreement that the current building is failing physically as well as being able to meet educational needs. The school badly needs plant and structure repair, and the cost of those repairs would be in the $45.6 million range. Because these are repairs, they may NOT qualify for MSBA funding. This expenditure would be strictly for repairing the current facility. No renovations are included. This means that just to keep the school going for a few more years, we, the taxpayers of the district, would face increased taxes to make the repairs. Given the age of the building, it will probably require more investment in the not-too-distant future.

The new $72.7 million school is estimated to cost the taxpayer in the $41.5 million dollar range. This would give the communities involved a brand new, state of the art, energy efficient facility that meets the needs of our current and future student population. This is important so that our graduates will be better prepared for future employment and to be productive in our rapidly changing society.

One way or the other, we the taxpayers will see a rise in our taxes. The option of building the new school is a much better return on investment of our tax dollars. Yes, it is more expensive in the beginning, but lower operating costs, an up-to-date educational facility and better learning opportunities will quickly offset the short term savings from simply repairing the current building. In addition, the disruption to the students during the construction process are minimized.

Our parents and grandparents certainly faced these same dilemmas when Wahconah was first built and they chose to invest in us. Now it is our turn. No one likes to see their taxes increased, but we are talking about our children and grandchildren. They are the future. Let's not shortchange them.

Robert Merry,

Dalton

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