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Forum, March 7: Schools are community’s core


Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Schools are community’s core

Thank you to the Lebanon School District and School Board for providing voters with clear information on the proposed upgrades for Mount Lebanon, Hanover Street and Lebanon High schools. I am more convinced than ever of the urgency of these upgrades.

My children have been in Lebanon schools for the past nine years. We have watched the schools “make do” with overcrowded classrooms, limited space and inadequate cafeterias. Teachers and principals spend every morning monitoring the unsafe drop-off zones, while school entryways are far from secure. Basics such as accessible toilets, hot food at lunch, and even space to eat lunch are missing. The modernization plan includes upgrades and expansions to classrooms, cafeterias, entryways, offices and safety features. Anyone who has spent time in these schools knows that these are not luxury improvements but urgent fixes to longstanding problems.

The proposed auditorium would also fill a large void in the district and the community. The schools have been “making do” with the Lebanon Opera House, and many believe this is adequate. Again, if anyone has been backstage (or at the Seminary Hill auditorium), it would be clear that these facilities are neither big enough nor modern enough to provide for our thriving performing arts groups. At concerts, many musicians play from the wings because of the small Opera House stage. A school auditorium would provide more space for music and drama, offer training to students in backstage tech, and cut down on missed school hours due to travel. It would also be used for school assemblies and community events, films, meetings and more. Mascoma High School’s auditorium is a case in point.

Schools are the heart of any community. Strong schools encourage families to move to Lebanon, contributing to the tax base and bringing opportunity to the city. Families rely on the schools to support our kids with a well-rounded education in academics, arts, athletics and life skills. We voters should return the favor. Please support our schools. Vote yes on articles 2 and 3.

KRISTIN O’ROURKE

Lebanon

Don’t believe the estimates

Wake up and smell the roses, Lebanon voters. Take out your previous tax bill and look at your current property assessment. I’m sure not many of you have an assessment under $100,000. Now is the time for a math lesson.

■ Article 2: The estimated tax impact for upgrades to Mount Lebanon, Hanover Street and Lebanon High schools, plus site improvements, is $89 per $100,000. (The annual cost to pay the loan.)

■ Article 3: The estimated tax impact for the new Lebanon High School auditorium is $42 per $100,000.

■ The final estimate from the contractor is not due until January 2020.

The magic word here is “estimated.” Have you ever gotten an estimate that didn’t go over the budget? I doubt it. This does not include other costs added to our tax bill that go up every year. The combined sewer overflow project has cost us millions and water and sewer fees are constantly rising. We have reached the point that the older members of the community can no longer afford to stay in their homes, nor can they afford rental fees.

No excuses. Get out and vote no on articles 2 and 3.

JACQUELINE H. MINARD

Lebanon

Upgrade Mt. Lebanon School

I am writing to voice support for warrant articles 2 and 3 of the school budget that will be put before Lebanon voters on Tuesday. Let me speak to the multipurpose space, or the lack thereof, at the Mount Lebanon School.

Having recently been invited by our granddaughter to attend a third- and fourth-grade winter concert at Mount Lebanon School, my husband and I arrived early and were able to secure seating. Approximately one-third of the chairs set up had been cordoned off, reserved for student performers. As families arrived, the seats quickly filled and the majority of the audience was left standing and leaning against walls — some with small children on their hips, some with infants in their arms. I was initially surprised that younger grades were not included in this concert, but quickly realized how impossible that would be to accommodate.

Family and community participation is vitally important in academics both to the students and to the faculty. No matter how creative Mount Lebanon School staff members are at making this tiny multipurpose space work every day for physical education classes, a lunch room and an auditorium, I cannot imagine how anyone believes this space supports that critical family and community involvement. The time is now to address the paucity of space at Mount Lebanon School. We must do better for our children and grandchildren and support the School Board’s efforts to bring a modernization plan to fruition.

JEANETTE HUTCHINS

West Lebanon

Pushing people to the edge

Lebanon voters, please really think about how much the cost of getting an auditorium at the high school will cost. I just don’t understand how we can keep putting the financial burden on the people of Lebanon. We have people on fixed incomes who can hardly pay for the water and sewer increase and still pay for medicine, which keeps going up also.

I am self-employed and finding it more and more difficult to afford health insurance. At some point we have to stop pushing people to the financial edge. I ask everyone to consider us people at the bottom and how much of a challenge it has become to live in our own homes.

MARK COURTEMANCHE

Lebanon

A collaboration between landowners and hunters

Thank you for your coverage of the meeting in Etna last month to discuss the hunting program to deal with Hanover’s deer overpopulation (“A hunt for success” Feb. 9).

I write this letter to provide some additional background and to celebrate the many groups and individuals who came together over many years with a tenacious focus on a common goal to make this program happen.

That effort goes back at least to 2011 when the Trescott Co. lands were opened to hunters and Peter Kulbacki, Hanover’s director of public works, assumed the unusual task of managing that hunt. During that same time period, Gail McPeek cultivated a supportive relationship between hunters and neighbors in a united effort by the Hanover Conservancy, Dartmouth College and the town of Hanover to organize the first deer hunt on Balch Hill.

That spirit of cooperation continued to grow. Don Cutter and Jim Kennedy spent countless hours, both in the woods and working with New Hampshire Fish and Game, to understand the deer problem and strategize positive management actions. Dan Bergeron, deer team leader at New Hampshire Fish and Game, supported our efforts to effect the state rule change that enabled towns to be awarded extra antlerless permits. All along, Barbara McIlroy brought attention to the imbalance in our forests and urged the town and state to do more eradication of invasive species. Many other volunteers and Hanover town staff played a role in this cooperative effort, including our town clerk’s staff, which issued 100 special permits in just over an hour last August.

The photograph taken at the Etna debriefing was spot on, conveying the collaboration between landowners and hunters that needs to occur in order for this program to be successful. If you are interested in participating in the program in 2019, either as a hunter or landowner, please contact the Hanover Planning and Zoning Office.

PETER CHRISTIE

Etna

Community nurses can help

Having read Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan’s Opinion column about the care of older Vermonters (“Protecting elders in the Green Mountain State,” Feb. 1), I want to mention the Upper Valley Community Nurse Project, which has been growing.

Individuals living in those towns that have one are getting a free service while developing a continuing relationship with a local health care professional who can provide personal attention and assessment, as well as advocacy and referral within the health care system. The goal is to provide high-quality medical care available to all town residents, especially our elders who need assistance in “aging in place.”

Our medical facilities can’t keep up with the demands of our expanded population. This is true all over the world. Around here, 40 percent of us are old and need many kinds of assistance.

This personal attention and assessment detects problems early, can help with situations of self-neglect, and provides advocacy and referral within the health care system. This would be a simple, locally driven solution to many of the things Donovan listed. Let’s get more towns to do this.

Carol Langstaff

Sharon