Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

Acting responsibly

March 31, 2005

To the editor,

Last week, an ad in The Current against the school bond issue was filled misrepresentations and errors, and scare-tactic logic. Certain "No" voters have tried to distribute rumors and consistently misquote the words of board members, district officials and others, and even run misleading ads. In the last two weeks these groups have called themselves the "Citizens For Responsible School Funding" and the "Parents Dedicated to Quality Education," as if those of us who have assessed the school facilities and recommended the key aspects of the current proposal are neither responsible nor care about quality education. This bond issue is the most responsible and cost-effective thing we can do right now to improve the quality of our kids' education and the future of this community.

In a March 17 ad, the "No" group misstated existing bond issues when they know better. Even without a new bond issue, Lansing will pay off a 1998 bond in 2006, and another by 2013, not two by 2013. They also misled the public about whether state support is available for the bond issue. Currently the state will fund 34 percent of our annual principal and interest payments on such a bond, and even if they passed something to eliminate that support in the future, districts with existing bonds would be grandfathered.

This group also keeps suggesting that there could be a less expensive alternative. None in this group are engineers, architects, financiers, educators, or any other form of credible experts, and they have not proposed anything that solves this district's safety and education related facilities problems.

Some have suggested they are tired of having to pay taxes for schools. Bond issues are the only way to build new facilities, and taxes help pay operating costs for schools. The only way to avoid school taxes is to pass from this world. In the meantime, a person would pay an additional $6.47 per month for this bond issue for an average home valuation for Lansing ($179,000 - City of Lansing data), or $10 a month or less for anyone under $300,000 in residential property value.

Other folks want to nitpick the proposal with regard to the 18 percent that represents the high school auditorium and band room costs. We don't understand the logic behind voting the entire proposal down and denying a school for 800 kids, because of an additional $2/month the auditorium and band room will cost.

We wonder if this community will show it cares about kids? That's not a guilt trip talking either. Many of us accept that our taxes benefit kids other than our own, and long after our own kids are graduated. All we can do is ask you not to buy into the "No" voters' attempts to divert attention from the needs and the right solution that has been proposed. They have not been able to successfully challenge the need for the new facilities, only the overall cost or that they will have to pay slightly more in taxes.

Rest assured a "No Vote" is a vote against upgrading substandard educational facilities. The facts presented to the Board of Education in 2002 and again in 2004 add up, and the situation will only worsen if this bond issue does not pass. The "Desperate Citizens" have not come up with a plan that would work at no cost, or anything else that is positive and forward looking.

Vote for our kids and for our community April 5!

Ali Zeck and Bernd Ingram

Co-chairs, Lansing Facilities Planning Committee

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