School problems go well beyond air conditioning
To the editor:
In a recent letter to the News former Mt. Pleasant CSD Board members tell us the school bond issue is not necessary for air conditioning our four elementary schools.
They say the money is available now without the bond.
Folks are puzzled. If the money is available now without bonding why was it not available when they served on the board? This seems a fair question.
After all, our current superintendent and board are said to be spending money left and right. If funding exits now - surely it did then?
The record is clear. Teachers, parents and retirees have been rightly making the case for air conditioning for more than 20 years.
While our schools have gone without, Central Lee, Burlington, Danville, Keokuk, New London, Wayland, Washington and beyond have become fully air conditioned.
In fact, one would be hard pressed to find a district with four elementary schools - all with no air.
The answer to all this is more complex than can be detailed in a letter to the editor. When the writers reflect on their time on the board they will likely agree. It is possible the letter writers have not considered all the factors.
For example, this bond will not take us to our bonding limit and geothermal heating has only been discussed as an option. It is not a done deal. Nothing is a done deal until the bond is approved and the contract bidding, planning and specification process occurs. In this process all options are studied at each site. The geothermal experience at the new Iowa prison can be studied by engineers but it is largely irrelevant to our circumstance.
The problems of our four aging schools go well beyond air conditioning.
The December 2013 architect report by a very experienced firm is 59 pages long.
It details safety and security problems, leaky roofs, outdated mechanical systems, plumbing problems, lack of space, asbestos, inadequate electrical capacity, poor lighting and, of course, no air. The report tells us individual teaching is taking place in congested corridors.
These conditions are not anyone’s fault. They happen as heavily used buildings age and need change.
All four schools are in great neighborhoods and are structurally sound but they are at the point where they need major work. And, they must be brought to today’s standards in education. By giving teachers the tools and environment they need these schools can serve us another fifty years.
The past board members worked tirelessly with administrators over the years to support our schools.
Many were involved when it came time to ask voters to bond for a new high school and invest in major rehabilitation to the middle school.
Our current board has worked hard and determined it is time to invest in the elementary schools. Perhaps with some thoughtful study and appreciation of the task at hand the dedicated veterans will agree.