Demling Op-Ed (Oct. 31 2016): Vote Yes

Amherst bulletin, letters to the editor, Oct. 31, 2016
Peter Demling
Question 5 yes vote would save money

Here’s the simple answer to what Question 5 is, and why a yes vote will save our town a boat load of money.

First off, it has nothing to do with supporting the actions or behavior of our previous superintendent or the school committee. Rather, it approves a tax override to fund a new public school building. That’s it – it’s not a blank check.

The reason why it saves a ton of money is simple: if it passes, the state will grant us 34 million dollars, covering more than half the cost of the building! Ridiculous, right? Well, not so easy to come by: there’s a wicked slow, highly competitive approval process that we had to get through first, starting way back in 2007. this is the last step.

The reason we need this now is that we have two old school buildings in substantial disrepair, and both have a really bad design to boot (built in the ‘70s during the “open classroom” fad that most everyone hates now). So we just had this endless year of town meetings about what to do, and the building committee unanimously recommended combining both schools into one – since the state’s offer covers half the cost of one building only.

Some people like the idea of two schools in one, and some don’t. But the building committee, select board, and our state representative are all in unanimous agreement that we should do this now, given our other major upcoming town expenses. If it fails, we go back to the beginning of the free state money line, waiting an unknown number of additional years for approval.

A grant of $34 million dollars is just way too good a deal to pass up. This is why it makes the most fiscal sense to vote yes on 5.

Peter Demling