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Letter to the Editor: Why I Support the Bond

Letter-To-The-Editor(This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Kathy Stahler)
Dear Editor: Over the last few weeks, I have been asked many times, why exactly I support the bond. I find this a hard question to answer because the reasons are just so clear to me and the other side just so unclear. So here it goes...

1) TAX NEUTRAL: To start, this costs us all nothing! Do you hear, NOTHING... It is TAX NEUTRAL. All of the schools in the community will get the improvements they require at no additional cost to us! And why don't we want this? If this bond is not passed, the determined needs for the community will fall on all of the taxpayers. This means that either our taxes go up or the needed improvements/repairs will be postponed. For those who don't think the focus should be on staying tax neutral, I am thrilled that you can afford tax increases, but not all of us fall in that same bucket and an increase, to our already high taxes, would mean life changes.

2) SCHOOL DISTRICT NEEDS: This list was carefully put together by experts. We are not all experts. I, personally, never expected to be part of this process and believe that the right people were brought in to determine this. The teachers, principals and key community member on committees were involved and added the needed intel. It is beyond understanding that anyone in our community would question whether the proposed renovations to our schools are necessary. Boilers, roofs, burners, ventilation systems, and electrical panels that are far older than their expected life expectancy need to be replaced before the need to replace occurs on an emergency - and far more expensive - basis. Just as with our own homes, we need to take care of the buildings we send our children to for 180+ days a year for 13 years of their lives. This should not be a question. They will need to happen with or without the bond and will fall on all of us should the bond not pass.

3) GREENACRES RENOVATION AND EXPANSION:
a. GREENACRES IS OVERDUE: Other neighborhoods questioning why Greenacres deserves this funding or state that it is too much to spend, take a look and see this school has been passed up and is severely overdue. The existing classrooms that will be preserved need to be updated and they will under this bond. Bathrooms will become ADA compliant and all teaching will be removed from the basement areas. Safety will be addressed and health concerns due to dampness will be mitigated. All the other schools have received funding for improvements and renovations and it is now Greenacres turn. Yes, it is a lot of money, but that is because it has been passed up multiple times and the cost has built over time.

b. RENO AND EXPANSION TO OLD SCHOOL v. NEW SCHOOL: To set the background, I too was in the new school camp when this whole process began. I too thought a state of the art facility in the middle of the Greenacres Field was a dream, but I am not an expert on what is right for the community and with enlightenment to the true details of the project, I now believe the plan we have in place is exactly what is needed for our children. I live in an old house and when I needed new kitchen, I didn't tear down my house or move out, I tore the kitchen to studs and updated it to the gorgeous state of the art design it now has. Old is not necessarily dangerous or not as good, it can sometimes be stronger and higher quality. The district has provided a clear cost analysis that is available on the bond website. Anyone who says this doesn't exist, hasn't clicked yet or gone to the many events and meetings where this information has been distributed.

c. SAFETY: Edgewood is currently being renovated with the kids attending school, the middle school did this too and the high school does this on a normal basis. Why should Greenacres be different and why is this dangerous to these children and not to the others in the district? Safety is the highest priority in everyone's mind and the district has answered all the required questions and made adjustments to accommodate concerns. It is time to let this work happen and trust the experts. Once again, we are NOT experts.
d. PARKING: They have said over and over that they are still working on this. Why would we not sign off on a bond because of parking? Walk to school if it is so painful or park a little further up on Sage Terrace or park on Brewster and walk the two blocks. There is plenty of space for the 45 mins each day of pick up and drop off -- not even, when traffic is an issue. Also, please feel free to contact the Village about traffic issues as they are currently working through a plan.

e. TIMING OF WORK: There will always kids that have to live through the work if it is a new building or an improvement on the old. So pushing this off only means the next set of kids will have to live through it. There are too many people ok with this mentality of pushing off to the next generation. The work has to happen, sorry your kids will have to live through it, mine will too and no matter what, someone's will. It seems bizarrely selfish to vote against this bond to pass it off to the next set of kids. I am surprised people can live with this. I can't.

4) GROUPS, BLOGS, FORUMS AND LEAGUES WITHIN THE COMMUNITY: In the past, I have truly respected the opinion of all of these groups and acknowledge the time and energy that these volunteers put in to benefit the community, but recently and in my opinion, it seems many of these reports/editorials are painful skewed to the views of a select group. They are meant to provide educated responses, truthful information and to allow the community to come to the conclusions they chose to come to. Unfortunately, instead of this, scare tactics have been used, threats have been thrown and false information has been circulated. For example, the League of Woman's Voters Report mainly states the community has not been involved in the process and that there is a lack of the needed information. This couldn't be less true. Business works this way, experts work to generate the best possible plan and when they have it, they open the forum to the rest of the people involved to take the work to the next level and to check progress. There is no way anything would have been able to move forward if the involvement of the community had been expected at every step of the process. There have been many different platforms that have allowed questions and where the board and district has been very open to answering the question of the attendees and have asked for involvement. Changes have been made due to input from these meetings and committees There have also been committees instituted to encourage involvement.

This report also states a lack of pertinent information. If you don't have the information you need, go on the website and take a look. It's there. Maybe you should have attended more of these meetings or watched them as many were video cast or even recorded for you? Maybe you should have sent in your questions? I admit some of the information took too long to be shared, but it is all there now and the meetings are still happening where you can ask questions- Attend them, sit down and read the information. Lack of information or the process shouldn't be reasons to vote no at this point unless you don't like where we got to and that is your conclusion after you educate yourself. The vote is still ahead of us –Educate yourself, don't just listen to one source. Hear the sides, read the documents and make a decision you can feel good about.

5) VOTING NO TO EXPRESS YOUR DISLIKE OF THE PTA, BOA or DISTRICT EMPLOYEES or THE PROCESS: This is just one of the many reasons I have heard. Please take a step back and see that we got to a good place even if you don't like how we got here. Experts were used to get us here from outside our community, they are not any the people you dislike. If we vote no, I fear we will head back in to the tailspin and we will be back where we are if and when the next vote happens. The experts got us to where they are for a reason and don't just vote against the bond to vote against these people. It only hurts our kids.

I am sure there are issues I have missed and contingencies of the community -- it seems there are a million of them. I hope I can enlighten at least a few people. We are a community that has always come together to support education for all the children in the district, not just ours. It is why our school district has consistently been rated as one of the top school districts in the country. Let's do it again. I urge everyone to SUPPORT THIS BOND AND VOTE YES on February 8th.

Thanks for your time,
Kathy Stahler

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