Editorial

May 2 school bond election will be a milestone for me

The May 2 election will be a milestone for me. It will mark the first time in my more than 45 years of voting that I have not supported a school bond or millage request.

Yes, that’s right — I’m voting “no” on both proposals.

I have four reasons, and the last of the four is the most personal and important to me.

  1. It’s too extensive and expensive.

There are too many goodies in these two bond packages, too many decisions to make. That means there is too much to dislike.

The idea of adding the sixth grade wing to the junior high is excellent and it should alleviate the population pressures for other elementaries in the district. So fourth- and fifth-graders then can be moved to Pine Street, a 75-year-old building I believe has not outlived its usefulness.

Architects Tower-Pinkster’s alarm over students crossing the street for band and physical education is nonsense. Children have been doing it for more than half a century, and as long as traffic is blocked off during school hours, dangers should continue to be miniscule. The old building indeed does need some updating, but it can still get the job done.

Combined, the two bond proposals have the price tag of almost $55 million. My wife and I, not particularly well to do, would pay almost $200 more per year in property taxes.

I know, that’s less than a dollar a day, about $4 per week. And it’s for a good cause. I can hear the public relations and marketing chatter already. I usually ignore it. This time, I’m not.

  1. The growth issue isn’t as dire as stated.

School officials’ contentions that Leighton Township population is growing at a rapid clip are true. But what’s missing in their argument is that a good chunk of the new students instead will go to Caledonia or South Christian. So the projection of 185 more students in five years may be too optimistic.

  1. Artificial turf is frivolous, pool is suspect.

I just can’t understand the need for artificial turf at the football stadium, at a hefty price tag of $1 million. The field isn’t used often enough each year to justify the expense.

The tennis courts, granted, are sorely needed. The pool is important for instruction for children in an area that features a lot of lakes, but a better system to fund its installation and operation is essential. I am not sold on the idea that school districts should be entirely on the hook for swim pools.

Maybe Wayland needs a sugar daddy, like some of the surrounding districts.

  1. I have trust issues with school officials.

George Orwell once said, “The news is what someone else doesn’t want you to know.” This applies to Wayland schools.

Officials have shown me a history of not lying, but just not telling the whole story.

The most recent troubling example was when they were asked why the varsity softball and baseball teams were not playing home games until April 21. They attributed the developments to weather and minor physical conditions, but did not let the public know about the embarrassing disappearance of the pegs that hold down bases. The games couldn’t be played without bases, and officials should have been forthcoming about it. But they weren’t.

It’s not the first time this kind of dancing around the truth has occurred, and the public has a right to be suspicious.

As stated above, this last of the four reasons is the most important. I understand there is an important element of marketing and public relations that goes with the business of administering public schools, but I’m old-fashioned enough to still believe “honesty is the best policy.”

There, I outlined four reasons why I oppose the two bond proposals. And I didn’t even bring up the casino.

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