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Letter to the Editor: Deferring Mount Abe work wouldn’t be wise

Thirty-five million might seem like a lot of money, and it is a lot of money. But a vote for the Mt. Abe Renovation Bond on Thursday, Nov. 2, will be less expensive by far than continuing to put off work that is desperately needed. Like the homeowner who refuses to fix a leaky roof in order to save in the short term and ends up paying way more than the original roofing bill, for sheathing, rafters and rot repair, we cannot afford to kick this can down the road.
There are costs of having inadequate and outdated ventilation, plumbing and heating systems, like having to repair plumbing disasters and replace gym floors while school is in session. And there are risks, financial and otherwise, in having fire and safety systems that are barely at or below code standards for public buildings. These costs and risks are not always easy to calculate, but they show up in things like increased sick days for students and staff, distracted learners and educators and heating and electricity bills that are higher than they need to be.
Besides these direct and indirect costs, putting off this needed investment puts a hit on our property values relative to our surrounding districts. Though the Administration and Staff have been doing their best to make small ongoing improvements in the building, a short visit by a prospective home buyers can be enough to make them look for a home elsewhere. We can’t let this situation continue.
The Mount Abe Renovation Committee, made up of a diverse group of citizens from our five towns, looked long and hard at the shortcomings of the building and the opportunities for improving conditions for learning as well as improving community access. Let’s respect their considerable effort, and the affirmation provided by the Unified Board in putting this proposal before the voters, by supporting this investment in a better future for our kids and our communities.
Louis DuPont
Chair, Robinson Elementary School Board
Starksboro

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