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Support schools, community; vote yes on bond

Gresham-Barlow School District


OK. Brace yourselves. We’re about to ask you all to spend more of your hard-earned dollars in support of local children and their schools.

The $210 million bond proposed by the Gresham-Barlow School District represents a wise investment that should be embraced by district patrons. The bond will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, and The Outlook strongly recommends its passage.

We know that property owners in East County are still recovering from the economic meltdown that led to so many people losing their jobs, homes and businesses. We are not so callous as to shrug off the fact that this bond will represent a financial burden on people for the next 25 years.

Under the latest cost projections, the owner of a home with an assessed value of $167,350 would pay $22 a month, or $1.56 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That’s $264 a year. That ain’t chump change.

What taxpayers in the Gresham-Barlow District have to get their heads wrapped around is the question of whether this will be money wisely spent. We believe the answer to that question is an unequivocal “yes.”

The reasons to support this bond fall into four basic areas:

• Student safety.

• Preparing local students for college and vocational training.

• Supporting neighborhoods and the community by investing in schools.

• It ain’t gonna get any cheaper

STUDENT SAFETY

It’s been about 13 years since the district invested in any meaningful remodel to its school buildings. And a lot’s changed in that time, particularly in the way modern schools are designed to protect students against the types of armed intruders we’ve come to associate with incidents such as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and elsewhere.

Modern schools are equipped with video surveillance, door-locking systems and controlled entries. Many of the schools in the Gresham-Barlow School District lack adequate protections for students against similar attack. These are changes that are overdue, purely from the perspective of doing the right thing for children.

The upgrades also will strengthen the aging buildings, which are at risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake.

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE

Right now, students in the Gresham-Barlow School District are graduating and moving on to higher education at a rate that exceeds the state average. That speaks well of the district.

But the buildings themselves are a road block to adequately preparing those students to take their places in college classrooms and in post high school vocational programs.

The wiring of the buildings is antiquated, as is the equipment used to provide instruction. The space in the schools is cramped.

Passage of the bond would remove those road blocks, by allowing a rebuild of about 80 percent of Gresham High School (retaining the historic exterior appearance of the school). That rebuild will bring the school into the 21st century, allowing teachers to provide the modern education that is required of today’s high school graduates.

SUPPORTING NEIGHBORHOODS

When today’s taxpayers were in high school, it was the property owners who supported the schools, even if they didn’t have children or grandchildren in the schools.

That hasn’t changed.

Today, we’re being asked to vote yes on this bond. A no vote is really much more than a vote against schools, but also a vote that would harm the surrounding community.

Because people are more mobile today than ever before, parents don’t even think twice about relocating to where they find the best schools.

It’s not hard to figure out that good schools retain families, which are the backbone of clientele for local businesses. It’s these families that support city budgets and help pay for parks and recreation programs. And it’s these people who help fund fire and police services.

As schools go, so goes the community. The Gresham-Barlow School District is a great place to call home. It will be even better with passage of this bond.

IT AIN’T GONNA GET ANY CHEAPER

When this bond measure was first announced, the rate was estimated at $1.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value. And in recent weeks, we’ve learned that that estimate has risen to $1.56 per $1,000.

The reason? Rising interest rates.

Some people have suggested that this bond should be delayed until the economy in back on solid ground. But to do so risks even higher interest rates.

If the bond were to pass today, the interest rate would be about 3.5 percent. And that’s a good rate.

Patrons of the district should jump at this opportunity to spend less over time on repayment of the bond debt.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

Vote yes on Gresham-Barlow School District Measure 26-153.



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