The proposed Ticonderoga Central School building and renovation project deserves support.
On Sept. 25 voters will decide the fate of the proposed $23.8 million project that calls for an addition at the high school, creation of new classroom space, moving administrative offices, improved parking and renovation of current facilities.
Voters should look to the future and OK the project. The work is necessary and the time is right.
No one wants to pay more in school taxes, but rejection of this proposal will mean higher taxes later. Just look at recent history.
In June of 2003 Ti school district voters rejected a project that totaled $20.3 million. That project included all the work in the current proposition and a new gym and swimming pool.
The current proposal is essentially the same project minus the new gym and poolfor $3.5 million more.
Be clear, by doing the work four years later it will cost $3.5 million more while taxpayers and students get less.
In touting the current proposed project, school officials have used a slogan: What are we building? Character. Opportunity. Value. Community. Build a better tomorrow. Superintendent John McDonald has pointed out that the proposition isnt about bricks and mortar.
McDonald is right, approving this project sends a clear message that the community values its students, its school and education.
But it has a lot to do with bricks and mortar, too.
Ticonderoga High School was built in 1929. Its last major work was an addition in 1958. The middle-elementary school was constructed in 1967. Those buildings badly need attention now; a decade from now they will desperately need attention.
In the meanwhile construction costs increase about 10 percent a year. Dont believe it? If voters had approved the 2003 Ti school proposal taxpayers would be looking a $3.5 million savings and students and community members would have access to a new gym and pool.
Should voters reject this plan, there will be another school repair and renovation project in a few years with an even bigger price tag. The work needs to be done, the costs keep going up. Thats not going to change.
Some local taxpayers, including Richard Wray, have been working to enact school funding changes on the state level. They would like to see this project rejected, or at least delayed, until school funding is changed to reduce local property tax burdens.
New proposed major school renovations would be excellent to haveif they did not fall heavily on the backs of local property taxpayers, Wray wrote to the Times of Ti recently. Instead of spending our tax dollars elsewhere, the federal and state governments should invest the millions needed to maintain schools and not force residents to sell their homes through never-ending property tax increases.
We should applaud Wray for his work to change the current property tax system, but we need to be realistic. Property tax reform requires courage on the part of state legislators courage that is sorely lacking. There is no property tax reform on the horizon.
The reality is our school district needs this project. It will never be cheaper. Ti taxpayers squandered an opportunity in 2003; they cant afford to do it again.