Griffith: The right thing for students is to vote yes

To the editor:

After reading Judy Winegar’s letter to the editor this week, we decided that while she is entitled to her opinion, we were not going to let her “Millstone Theory” regarding the upcoming school millage go unchallenged.

We all know that we compete not only in a U.S. economy, but in a global one as well. In order to successfully compete, we need to provide our youth with the tools they need to not only survive but thrive. We believe that Big Rapids Public Schools works hard to provide an excellent opportunity for our students to do just that: Thrive. Pragmatically, offering an excellent education involves bricks and mortar. That’s where the millage comes in.

The Big Rapids Board of Education is making a reasonable request to replace aging roofs, vehicles and furniture, much like a responsible homeowner would do. Older roofs and vehicles can actually become more costly than new ones in the long run when one considers the cost of repairs and the lack of energy-saving technology missing in older buildings and buses. Those of us who own homes and cars know that over time home maintenance and car replacement are necessary expenditures. Schools face the same dilemma.

The median price of a home in Big Rapids/Mecosta County is about $101,000. Based on that value, the bond request will cost the homeowner less than $10 more per month in property taxes based on the new 5.40 millage rate. In seven years, when the 1995 bond is paid off, the millage rate will drop to 2.35 mills.

Ms. Winegar associates the phrase “long-term debt” with this bond request, so let’s look at the following facts. In 1995, a 7.00 mill bond request was passed. Currently, that rate is 3.05. This is due to rising housing assessments over the last 23 years. If this bond request is approved, the new rate will increase to 5.40. Then in 2025, when the 1995 bond is paid off, the rate will drop to 2.35. We think “short-term debt” is more appropriate.

Just like Ms. Winegar, we too, trust that the voters of the Big Rapids Public Schools district will find the wisdom and conscience to do the right thing for our current and future students and vote YES on Tuesday, May 8.

Paul and Susan Griffith

Big Rapids

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