We must set in motion a chain reaction for schools

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

We must set in motion the chain reaction that starts with approval of a new high school swimming pool. A “yes” vote for the May 2 bond proposal also will cause needed renovations and repairs for every school building in the Wayland Union school system.

I’ve sent my mail-in ballot to my township clerk for the second time in less than a year, voting with an emphatic “yes” to the Wayland Union Schools’ request. I support the Wayland Union Schools’ $49.7 bond proposal.

The price tag isn’t as bad as it seems. The district’s current 8.4-mill annual levy will be extended by more than 10 years, but residents won’t pay any more in taxes each year than they do right now.

I am impressed with that “chain reaction” or “domino effect” in which other rooms, programs and sites inside the high school will get new homes, repairs and renovations.

The aging swimming pool has outlived its usefulness and has become expensive and even dangerous to maintain. I have confidence in the people running the project, based on results of the last bond. Rather than simply replace the current almost 49-year-old swimming pool at its current location, plans call for expanding the high school building.

Demolishing and then vacating the current pool site will make way for a new band and orchestra room, which will lead to more room for the choir, which will lead to a new space for woodshop and auto shop classes, which will lead creation of a new place for wrestling practices.

This means that the bond project will benefit not just swimming, physical education and community education and recreation, but also other high school instruction classes and practice rooms.

Band, orchestra, choir, shop and wrestling programs have been operating in cramped quarters, not really offering quality experiences our young people deserve. This bond will jump start a process to improve all of them, not just the pool.

There also will be improvements, updates and repairs for all other buildings in the district, including the middle school and Pine Street, Steeby, Baker and Dorr elementaries.

Another not so obvious benefit of the bond project includes a new soccer field to better handle rain and snow, taking care of recent challenges that have delayed and even canceled athletic events. Another result will be a new home for the state champion Robotics #6090 program.

The pool was state of the art in 1974 when it was installed, but time has passed it by and now it’s almost a liability, not just for the interscholastic swim team, but also for physical education classes, swim lessons and general community use.

The way this project is planned, a domino effect will take place for other programs to provide many benefits for the school and community. This area of West Michigan is loaded with lakes and waterways that provide many swimming opportunities, but it behooves us to have children learn how to swim as a matter of public safety.

The diving and swimming areas in the aging pool are too shallow to accommodate MHSAA swim meets. But it is clear that a new pool would do much more than just be home to the high school swim team. It could provide lifeguard and other pool-related jobs for youth and boost the quality of the local physical education program.

A new pool would be used for athletics, elementary physical education, swim lessons and the community, including senior citizens. Furthermore, a new design would make it easy for young and elderly people to enter (featuring a zero entry pool-no steps-ease of access).

There’s a lot more to this bond than just a new swimming pool.

There are times I hear naysayers complain they’re tired of the schools coming back again and again with the pool proposal. I don’t see it that way. I see it as constant negotiations with the public. To stop is the same as giving up on the young people of this community.

I have been impressed with the way school officials handled the most recent bond for the middle school addition and tennis courts. District taxpayers got an even bigger bang for their buck when Assistant Supt. for Finance and Operations Patricia Velie came up with a way to grant the wishes of the football stadium crest to be leveled and artificial turf to be installed, at no added cost to taxpayers.

Wayland Schools promised and delivered on the bond project of a few years ago, and I have no reason to doubt they, unlike most politicians these days, will give us promises made, promises kept.

I think this proposal is good for the schools and good for the community. Please vote “Yes.”

1 Comment

  • What are we going to do in 10-15 years when we need more classroom space at the elementary schools plus Pine street? We will still have 10 years to pay the 80 million (30 million interest) on thes bonds? Guess where the money will come from ?

    Are we going to buy a pool instead of preparing for the next generation of students?

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