Letter: New Mascoma Plan Unaffordable

To the Editor:

Six months after the Mascoma Regional High School renovation plan was voted down (again), the verdict is to put a whopping $21,580,000 proposal on the 2014 ballot. The $23.8 million plan for 2013 was reduced by $2 million for pellet boilers, resulting in a pitiful net $200,000 reduction for 2014. This doesn’t include the continued spending of our taxes on plans, consultants and promotions, including cable TV spots.

The School Board paid absolutely no attention to post-vote suggestions to move on with fixing the problems that the board claims are the reasons for renovation, and continues to add unrelated pork, just as Congress does.

At a board meeting last year, I brought up the plummeting high school enrollment and offered statistics clearly showing that this trend will continue based on the district’s feeder grades. The answer from a board member was, “I can play that statistics game, too”.

Good statistics aren’t a game. My projection for 2013 Mascoma High enrollment was within two students of the actual. Enrollment has constantly declined, from 462 in 2006 to 389 in 2013. Based on feeder grades, the high school is on track to have an enrollment of 361 by 2016, then 331 by 2020. There is no quantitative justification for expansion.

The board now wants to play the statistics “game” itself by tracking how many events couldn’t occur this year due to the lack of an auditorium. One can only hope that if the proposed plan passes, the board will also keep statistics on the district’s fixed-income and struggling families who must cut back on food, clothing, heating fuel and discretionary spending, if any, once the tax burden of the renovation fully kicks in.

This isn’t a game: Real tax dollars are at stake in the current economy. Right now, a household in a $200,000 home would need the income from a one-year CD of over $80,000 to cover the tax increase that would come in the third year of a bond for the proposed renovation. If that person wanted a more liquid investment, he would need to have $140,000 in a top-tier savings account.

Malcolm Love

Canaan

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