Yes the right vote on school referendum

VOTERS IN THE PLYMOUTH School District will be deciding on a $31.9 million referendum question when they cast their ballots next Tuesday in the spring general election.

The extra $31.9 million being requested by the district would pay for improvements, upgrades, remodeling and additions at three of the district’s five school buildings – the high school and Fairview and Parkview elementary schools.

As it happens, all three of those buildings were built more than half a century ago and have gone the longest period of time without major renovations or upgrades than the district’s other two school buildings – Riverview Middle School and Horizon Elementary School.

The majority of the spending would be at the high school, but the projects at all three schools are significant and have been deemed necessary by the School Board after careful study, input and consideration.

The projects have been broken down into three general categories:

• Improved safety and security at all three schools.

• Better access to education, wellness and recreation for students and community members at all three schools.

• Expanded learning opportunities for students at Plymouth High School.

In the latter, the plan is to add facilities at the high school to allow adding a new health careers curriculum and enhancing existing culinary arts facilities. Both of those are growing career fields in our area and beyond, which will have an increasing demand for trained, capable and job-ready employees – a need the district looks to fulfill.

Science classrooms and facilities would also be renovated and upgraded at the high school, further supporting the already strong science and technology education offered there.

All three buildings would see improved and enhanced security and traffic patterns for buses and cars – another major concern in these days and times.

Students at both elementary schools would benefit from updated physical education and food services facilities under the plan. As anyone who has students at either Fairview or Parkview knows, the current facilities are woefully outdated and inadequate.

Finally, the entire community would benefit from a new multi-purpose indoor recreational facility that would be built at the high school under the plan. It would allow for, or expand existing, programs in physical education, fitness, recreation, community activities and more that are already offered to all district residents.

The referendum plan offers a thoughtful, effective and efficient approach to maintaining and enhancing the district’s existing buildings – much less expensive than constructing new buildings. It’s a program the district has followed well in the past – Riverview Middle School’s renovations are an excellent example of that.

It recognizes that educating our children has changed dramatically since the affected buildings were first constructed. It’s a reality that the district and School Board have been successful in acknowledging and meeting for many years.

It would mean an increase in the annual tax bill for the owner of a $100,000 home of $95 ($190 for the owner of a $200,000 home and so on). That is a cost, but it’s a cost that can be justified if it means continuing to offer district students the best education possible to help them craft their future and the future economic health of our community.

The 95 cent increase in the property tax rate would still leave the district’s tax rate well below the statewide average and still in the lower half of all districts in the county.

It’s a price to be paid, but a price that’s affordable if it means continuing the priceless education that the Plymouth School District provides to its students and the support that provides to the local economy. A yes vote on the referendum makes sense.

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