To the editor:
Mr. Visocsky's March 17 letter and a series of fliers handed out by an anonymous group are filled with untruths and misrepresentations. To be clear, we respect those citizens who have or will face financial hurdles in the coming year. It appears, however, that some people now want to penalize the school district and its children by voting against any additional increase in taxes, no matter how small or how great the need for them. Their tactics now turn to smoke and mirrors, and where they can get by with it, outright lies.
Mr. Visocsky attended one School Board meeting prior to the bond campaign to protest taxation but did not attend the four months of facilities assessment work done by our committee. He is wrong about the following items:
He assumes since we take in out-of-district students that we do not have a problem with capacity. Had he attended our assessment meetings, he would know that our problem is not necessarily seating students, but giving them enough and the right kinds of space. Many of our classrooms are too small or not designed for their current uses. This is true regardless of whether we take in the out-of-district students. The buildings are old and inadequate, period.
We do have two bonds being paid now. However, the 1998 bond will be paid off under the current financial planning in 2005, with the Middle School paid off by 2013. Should we ignore the needs of the children and the district when a reasonable and fiscally prudent means of building a school can be accomplished with majority support?
Totaling 20 years of projected mill levies to make the point that you should not support this bond issue is voodoo math. If you ever purchased a home on 20-year financing, even at a low interest rate, you know the total interest you pay over time is sizable, but unavoidable, if you want to own a home.
We've defined two main reasons the 2003 bond issue was rejected: The proposal did not address enough of the problems, and it would have increased the levy 10 mills. This bond issue takes care of most of the district's facilities problems, and at a 3.773 mill levy. So the fact we are getting 50 percent more this time with taxpayers paying about 60 percent less is a good thing!
Speaking for all the volunteers who worked to assess the facilities, we deeply resent statements that we are putting out propaganda and rhetoric. We were there over a four-month period spending our personal time to look at the facilities objectively and determine the problems when others were not. Our facts stand inspection with an overwhelming majority of people who know the circumstances and problems in our facilities. Our information is available for review at the district offices, while the opposition's opinions are often put out without a name to attribute them to and without a basis in fact.
Some "No" voters will find any reason to knock this plan because it costs them something. One we know personally will pay an additional $88 next year for this bond issue. This voter says the district should be more "reasonable" and find a smaller bond issue. Our experts are educational architects and financiers who do this for a living - and with a solid reputation - and they can tell you that not even a half-size elementary, smaller auditorium and band room could be built for the $6 million to $8 million Mr. Visocsky once proposed to the School Board.
Before you believe statements in any of the "No" voters' opinion pieces, we ask you to check out the facts, see the schools for yourselves and reach your own conclusions. Our Web site, lansingbondissue.com, is an excellent source of facts, and the newspapers have published the facts as well. The Lansing Current also has a Web site with video tours of the facilities.
Voters have a choice April 5. You can believe the smoke and mirrors, or you can listen to the hundreds of experts in education, concerned citizens and parents who know the facts, who have seen and deal with the problems at the schools and who have stepped forward again as they did in 2003 to say "We've made do long enough."
Ali Zeck and Bernd Ingram
Co-chairs, Lansing Schools Facilities Committee