New school boosts city
I am writing to try to motivate citizens of Girard and plead to their sense of civic responsibility in voting "yes" to the proposed 4.9-mill school levy Tuesday. The building of a new high school is the right thing to do for our children and our community.
I, too, see the "for sale" signs go up around town and stay up for months on end. The fact is we cannot sell our homes because neighboring communities have similar property values and offer new schools that pull potential buyers from Girard. It is a circular fashion of events: we build the school; we attract young families who will in turn pay Girard city taxes and also reduce the millage of the school levy. The tax pool grows. The community grows stronger.
This is a one-time opportunity for Girard schools. The state came to us. After careful and deliberate assessment, the state offered to pay 76 percent of the total cost of the new building. The levy is the remaining 24 percent. If the levy is rejected, the state takes the offer and gives it to another community. The point is, it's our state, and it's our money. We can use it in our community or let someone else reap the benefits of a new school.
I certainly understand the constraints of a budget. I am a full-time student at YSU, as is my husband. We are raising two small children and we are property owners in Girard. This proposed levy doesn't come at the most opportune time for me, either. However, we cannot be short-sighted. We all need to look at the bigger picture and realize that building this school is needed to ensure a continued high quality education and to kick-start growth in Girard.
The painful truth is that education is not free. But the money spent building a new school will do so much more than produce a new structure. It will give our children a place they can be proud to attend. The learning environment will produce better prepared graduates. Our dedicated teachers and service workers, who took a voluntary 2-year pay freeze a few years back, will have the tools to give our students a higher quality education. Not to mention that we can attract new teachers into a community that demonstrates support for education. But if it comes down to the almighty dollar, think of your property value. Property values rise in communities with new schools. It could mean a sellers' market here in Girard.
The workers who will build our new school will pay taxes to Girard. The construction itself will bring money to the community.
The validity of needing something beyond what we currently have is without question. The idea of building a new school did not fall out of thin air. Many scenarios have been evaluated. This is the one that made the most sense. The break-down of the proposals is available for all to review. Call the board of education.
There must be a better way
I'm not against a new school in Girard, but I am against the way the board of education is handling the whole process. The state is willing to hand us $12 million, its share, to renovate the high school. The idea of it taking three years to renovate our existing school I think is a scare tactic. The McDonald school system renovated its high school in about a year, and I never saw one temporary trailer in town. That district also built a modest two-story grade school on a lot less property than 40 acres.
Also I'm wondering why the board hired a Cleveland company, Thendesign, to design the school. If you look up stantec.com, a Canadian engineering firm, you will see the same projects on both websites. Are our tax dollars going to Canada? I know of four engineering firms in Youngstown that are involved in area school projects. Why didn't our board choose one of our local firms?
The voters of Girard need to know that this money will come around again if this issue is defeated on Tuesday. We will have an opportunity for these funds at a later date. I believe board of education members acted too quickly in gathering the information necessary to propose this new school site, and it is their duty to present a levy that people will vote for.
Take a good hard look at all the facts before you vote on Tuesday. Don't forget we have a police levy coming at us in November.