Time isn#039;t right to vote for school levy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2005

In just more than two weeks, Ironton voters will face a potentially life-changing decision - for themselves and generations to come.

The Ironton City School Board is seeking passage of an $18 million bond levy that would build three much-needed new schools in the city of Ironton.

On the surface it sounds great.

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The only catch is that passing the levy as currently outlined would call for the demolition of the historic Ironton High School building, constructed in 1922.

Generally, when schools attempt to raise funds for new schools, voters can be categorized into two types: Ones who want what's best for the students by supporting the bond levy and the other group who will steadfastly vote against any tax, regardless of purpose.

Through what we see as a combination of bad timing, short notice and downright bullheadedness, the school board and its supporters have effectively divided the group that would traditionally have supported the construction of new schools - and the additional taxes that are required.

We, like many residents, agree that the schools absolutely need to be either refurbished or replaced. We also agree that the opportunity placed before the voters is a good one - using a massive match of funds provided by the state.

But we disagree with the notion that this vote is our only option. The district handled the entire situation in such a way that very little true public discussion occurred.

We'd encourage voters to vote &#8220no” on Nov. 8, but not as some might think to simply nix the project outright, but rather to slow the process down and come up with a compromise.

It is not about nostalgia. It is not about cost. It is not about politics. Our decision is about the children and building the future of Ironton, without destroying its past.

The high school building is a beautiful building. However, beyond the front entrance area and the auditorium, much of it is simply too outdated to be useful, even if renovated. Many of the classrooms are too small; the hallways and passageways have extremely high, inefficient ceilings.

Beyond the front entrance and the auditorium, the rest of the school is simply a worn out, old building. That part needs replacing, no doubt.

But destroying the history and beauty of the front facade just for the sake of expediency isn't the right answer and it doesn't do justice to the thousands of men and women who graduated from the school and who still have a special bond with the memories found within.

The Nov. 8 election is only one of four chances in the next year that Ironton has to pass a bond levy and accept the more than $30 million in state matching funds.

Why don't we, as a community, roll up our sleeves and seek a good solution - not just the quick answer - to the matter. Our vote, if it were an option, would be to construct a plan that guarantees - not just promises to try - that the front entrance and auditorium will be saved and incorporated into a new building.

Doing so would be the best Ironton has to offer - a proud history and a brilliant future.