Letter to the Editor: Writer supports bond issue

To the editor:

It’s hard to believe that it has been 20+ years since our last bond issue. I believed then in that issue and I believe in the importance and integrity of this bond issue. I did have questions about some of the specifics of this issue, the exact numbers of how much money would go to various items. I picked up handouts and attended an informational meeting on Oct. 22. My questions and concerns were answered with facts and figures.

This issue is several years overdue, during which time continued cuts and cost-saving steps have been taken. School buildings, just as our homes, need updates, repairs and improvements after 20+ years of use and making do. It is not unreasonable to ask voters for the resources to do so.

Our caretakers, the administration and elected school board members, are attempting this job in a reasonable way. To do so in a piece-meal fashion would be irresponsible involving several bond issues over a period of time allowing Big Rapids Public Schools to fall further behind in updates. The needs will not go away unless addressed. Roofs do not repair themselves, nor do technology and facility updates just happen. The longer these issues are put off, the more costly they become.

Now to the “elephant in the room” — the multi-use stadium. I was quite skeptical of the need as 20+ years ago we decided that to duplicate the facilities of the Ferris State University football stadium, which they generously shared with us for five or six Friday nights a year, was a no-brainer. Times have changed. We are the school system of choice in our area and we can no longer compete with our comparable school districts in hosting many music festivals and sports competitions per year.

This multi-use facility, because of new technology, can and would be used by multiple groups every day for practices and competitions. This would be a huge plus for our community. This project would use about 20 percent or $4.2 million of the bond issue. In addition, your tax dollars will be spent on roofs, band equipment, new buses, auditorium updates, etc., etc. Get the facts.

In closing, I applaud the administration for keeping our soft costs, many of which are state mandated, about 12.7 percent, while most bond issues run 16 to 18 percent. These costs include fees, surveys and required services. If you have a question or concern, please seek answers from the superintendent, Tim Haist (796-2627), or a school board member. Get the facts and don’t be influenced by inaccurate rumors.

Rita Conrad

Community member and former school board member

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