To the Gazette:

I have worked for the Augusta School District for 29 years and have seen bond issues come and go.  Each time it causes uproar in the town and I am always amazed.  We, as educators, listen to the public’s concerns and try not to get personally offended. 

I currently work at Ewalt and Lincoln, so I know first hand the issues of concern at those two schools.  I trust the people that spent countless hours gathering information on the other schools to not question their decisions.

Yes, the bond issue seems huge – some of the changes do need to occur NOW – we have run out of space and some things are totally run down or not up to code.  So we do need to take care of those matters NOW.  Some of the proposals are for the future growth and problems that will arise in the near future.  We could have a bond issue now for the IMMEDIATE needs and then a few, short years from now, another bond issue for those proposals for the future.  Then people will complain about, “didn’t we just have a bond issue a few years ago”  “how come we can’t plan ahead and get all of this done in one bond issue,”  We are trying to plan ahead with this bond issue so we don’t have to turn around and have another one in a few short years.

Can we really expect our schools to last as long as our homes?  Does the wear and tear from a family of 4-5 equal the wear and tear of hundreds of young children or adolescents each year?  If your tax money wasn’t paying for the new buildings, would anyone really care if an old one was torn down and a new one was built?

Just in the few years that I have been in education, I have seen the following things added to the elementary curriculum – all day kindergarten, Early Childhood Education, counselors, art education, computer technology, English as a Second Language, breakfast programs, full time speech pathologists, Academy for reading and math, to name a few.  All of these programs take space, are necessary,  and most are mandated by the state.

I live in Augusta and pay taxes, have raised children in the Augusta school system and will have grandchildren probably go through the system too.  I don’t want my taxes to be higher, but have learned that this really is the way of life.  We don’t get something for nothing.  Isn’t it odd that we pay a monthly fee for our children to go to preschool or a weekly amount for them to be in daycare just waiting for the day they will start kindergarten and it will be “free”?   At that time, if we have to pay a larger amount, that is OK, because we want our kids to learn and to be in a safe environment and well cared for.  After our children graduate from high school, we are willing to pay huge amounts to send them to college and to buy their books so that they will get a good education and start in their adult life.

What about those in between years – those years in the public school system?  Those years that they learn how to read, write, do math, speak correctly, understand science, history, get physical education, participate in the arts of singing, playing an instrument, learn how to get along with others, get educated on drug and alcohol issues, sexual education, computer technology, home economics, foreign languages, social skills,
and the list goes on and on.  We, the public, want our children to be educated by the best and in the best, safest environment possible.  But we can’t get that for free.  We do have to pay for it and we should willingly do it for our kids and that is in the form of taxes, and yes, that is going to go up from time to time just like everything else does.

Get out in the schools, more than a one time walk through.  Talk to the staff and those who are involved.  See the needs first hand.  Plan ahead so we don’t have to do another bond issue in a few short years.  Remember the best thing about this bond, is that right now the state will pay a whopping 46 percent of the bond – if we don’t vote

YES now, it will cost us more down the road, because, we will have to make the changes down the road.

Support your local schools – your local educators.  They are supporting you – teaching your children – your grandchildren – your neighbors – OUR FUTURE.    VOTE YES FOR THE BOND ISSUE.

Tonie Apel
Elementary Counselor