Letter to the Editor: We need a reasonable Mount Abe proposal

As I read the article in Thursday’s paper relating to student “feelings” towards the Mount Abraham Union High School building I was struck by one thought. Why do they think the 5 town community doesn’t want to repair the building?
We do. We have been trying to get the school administration and the superintendent’s office to put up a bond for repair and code updates since the committee was appointed in 2013. It’s been those two groups’ choice not to move forward with a bond in 2015 after the failure bond of 2014. The community resoundingly said “No” to $35 million but said it would support a bare bones bond to fix the deficient, aged building. In fact a group of us stated we would work hard towards a positive vote outcome of a bond to fix the deficiencies. At the time it was $15 million.
These two school groups are the ones holding the community and students hostage. They refuse to put up a bond the 5 town community can afford. They refuse to be fiscally prudent. They refused to put up a bond Town Meeting Day of 2015 for “Plan B” because they were terrified the school budgets would fail. You see deep down they know they are asking for too much money. They refused to allow folks with a differing opinion of their own to participate and feel welcome. The committee was made up of “yes men.”
Another issue they have is since the last Mt. Abe bond vote we have yet another “new” principal and another “new” superintendent but the same 5 town community. People work hard yet see their paychecks stay the same and their property taxes do nothing but increase. This school administration has had money in the budget since 2013 to start fixing things around the school yet have only fixed emergency items. The “Wood Boiler Bond” ended, yet they kept about $250,000 from the ending of it just moving the line item to another budget column.
Plus they budgeted money for fixes in the 2015, 2016, 2017 budgets but haven’t used any of the money to fix anything. The superintendent along with a school board member stated this at the Oct. 9, 2017, Bristol selectboard meeting. They in fact were very proud of this shady budgeting style. They ended the “wood boiler bond” yet the community saw no savings in the following year’s school budget.
How do we trust them to manage $35 million? If the project came in under would they return the money to the taxpayers or reduce the Mt. Abe budget or just move the money to another column? In all my 27 years as a taxpayer in Bristol I have never seen the school boards return money or cut budgets.
The facility folks would and could easily fix tiles, holes in walls, yet they have been directed not to. I have this from a personal conversation with a source who has to remain anonymous or lose their job. Shady behavior again. Why? To ply the emotions of soft hearted tax payers.
Recently WCAX Channel 3 highlighted several small holes in a report they did based at the school that were easy fixes. It’s ridiculous the school has not repaired those items. Why? I would suggest to the new superintendent and new principal to stop holding the students and community hostage. Stop playing the emotion card. Start fixing things now the facility department employees can fix and want to fix. Set up a summer schedule and get on it. They proved themselves in the emergency fix of the plumbing and gym floors. Let them do their jobs. Students will see this and also want to take better care of the building. In fact perhaps some could help. In my humble experience community service prompts happiness. The Vocational Tech schools are always looking for spaces for the students to help.
Better yet put up an actual bond the entire community will support. One that businesses, landlords and property owners who pay huge taxes can support and feel good about supporting. Most of us voting “No” on Nov. 2 would be happy to vote “Yes” if a bond could be brought forth that makes fiscal sense. If this bond fails, don’t wait another four years. Please try again as soon as possible with the magic number of what it would cost for the fixes. By my calculation: $15 million.
Jodi Lathrop, Bristol 

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