warning: file_exists(): open_basedir restriction in effect. File(/var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/../ad_/ad_cache_.inc) is not within the allowed path(s): (/var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/:/tmp/) in /var/www/vhosts/glencoenews.com/httpdocs/sites/all/modules/ad/adserve.inc on line 160.

School’s needs the same, but cost rises

I have a real strong urge to say “I told you so!” But I will refrain.
However, after sitting in (as a private citizen) on the last Glencoe-Silver Lake (GSL) School Board meeting and last week’s four-hour workshop session, I wondered why are we even going through this again? Why should we even have to run another building bond referendum?
If either of the 2011 bond referendums had passed, we would now have a new addition onto the Lincoln Junior High, which would be nicely tied into the high school complex. Helen Baker would be closed, and most of GSL’s space needs would have been addressed for the next 20 years.
Instead, we now have seen the bond for a smaller project skyrocket to nearly $24 million from the $18.6 million three years ago. We now see the GSL School Board, its administration and architect looking for ways to trim the size of the project further, yet still try to meet most of its needs in order to take a third run at passing a building bond. Why are we making this so difficult?
So what’s changed as far as GSL space needs? Nothing.
First off, the Helen Baker Elementary School, opened in 1953, is crammed to capacity and now is experiencing expensive maintenance issues as reported in The Chronicle recently. In 2011, estimates to bring the Helen Baker school up to snuff was about $4 million (windows, utilities, boiler system, etc.). Today that estimate is $6 million.
Even if the School Board sinks $6 million into that school building, it still has not gained an extra inch of space. Folks, space, overcrowding and makeshift classrooms are the big issues with Helen Baker. If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself. I have seen the space problems. Elementary Principal Bill Butler will gladly show you around.
School referendums are different and difficult. The city and county do not have to run the gauntlet that the school district must when spending for operations and capital improvements. Why should school districts be different?
While we think referendums, especially on major capital projects, are fine, we must remind ourselves that we are a republican form of government, not a democracy. We elect people to represent us; we do not operate by plebiscite, except for the school district.
There is another major disadvantage involving school referendums: A building bond requires the district to tax farmers or land owners on their entire property, unlike an operating levy referendum, which takes the house, garage and one acre of ag land. That is established by state statute. It is unfair. And there is nothing that will change that except another legislative bill.
But the local debate really boils down to how voters feel about educating their children, grandchildren and neighbors’ children. As a voter, ask yourself: Is education important?
Our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents thought that education was so important that the Henry Hill school was built during the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Helen Baker was built as the Korean War was raging and Americans were finally emerging from the deperession years after World War II. Lincoln Junior High was built in 1963 to handle the crush of Baby Boomers, and so was the high school in 1969-70, at the height of the Vietnam War and its tumultuous anti-war protests.
Our forebearers felt educating their young was a duty of being Americans; it was a basic foundation for the rest of their children’s lives.
What will our legacy be in the years to come? That we refused to pass a school bond referendum because it costs too much? I suspect that same argument raged prior to our current school buildings being constructed. But they built them anyway.

Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, but still plans to submit an occasional column.