Letter: More Than Mascoma Needs

To the Editor:

Kudos to the Mascoma Valley Regional School Board for finding a way to heat four schools more economically in a manner that will ultimately pay for itself. Even so, this is not a “tweak” since it has to be paid for up-front.

Superintendent Patrick Andrew’s statement, “This is not some palace,” refers to a description on a website that advocates voting no on the $23.8 million bond issue to renovate the high school. Tunnel-visioned board members will not consider an alternative and their plan deserves to be voted down.

School Board member Wayne Morrison’s statement, that “what’s in the plan is what’s necessary” is simply not true. Consider:

∎  More and larger classrooms are not needed. The enrollment trend of the Mascoma School District and the high school — along with the national birth rate — is clearly downward. The state standard of 32 square feet per student was met in 2010 and is getting better every year due to shrinking enrollment.

∎  An auditorium is not necessary in small school systems that must make do with available resources. Using a gymnasium for multiple purposes is an inconvenient necessity, yet an accommodation made daily in myriad small school systems.

∎  A high school-produced video indicates that a “good school” (good education by inference) is dependent on a good building. In fact, a good education has everything to do with the quality of teaching, not the facility.

∎  With a national economy that can still go into free-fall due to unemployment and international forces, the timing couldn’t be worse to saddle our small communities with this higher tax obligation.

∎  Fix it if it’s broken, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. If the roof and gym floor need repair or replacement, repair or replace them. This course of action will create less of a disruption to the school while allowing classes to continue in parts of the building.

It is time for the Mascoma School Board to face the reality of a small school system in towns with limited resources.

Malcolm S. Love