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Letter: Mount Pleasant Schools’ Proposed Bond Is Irresponsible

On Saturday, Nov. 15, Mount Pleasant Central School District voters will decide on a $55.8 million bond proposal that addresses infrastructure and facilities upgrades at the Westlake High/Middle School campus.
On Saturday, Nov. 15, Mount Pleasant Central School District voters will decide on a $55.8 million bond proposal that addresses infrastructure and facilities upgrades at the Westlake High/Middle School campus. Photo Credit: http://whs.mtplcsd.org

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Mount Pleasant Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to Mountpleasant@dailyvoice.com.

To the editor:

On Saturday, Nov. 15, residents of the Mount Pleasant Central School District can vote on a $55.8 million bond proposal that addresses infrastructure and facilities upgrades at the Westlake High/Middle School campus.

Beginning last year, I participated on the Steering Committee that was formed to evaluate the district’s needs. Ultimately, the majority of the committee decided on the most expensive option – at a whopping $55.8 million price tag. On a committee of 31 people, I was the lone participant against the final bond offering. I feel a bond of this size is irresponsible, excessive and out-of-touch with educational enrichments that are key to student success.

I agree that a bond needs to pass; the facilities are in dire need of repairs in many aspects. From the science rooms, to the HVAC systems, to the fitness facilities – improvements are indeed needed. However, while a bond of any size must deliberate student needs, safety, and consideration of the community as a whole, it should not entertain a substantial amount of wants and unnecessary luxuries that cause it to be fiscally irresponsible.

Having participated on the committee, I know firsthand  the current proposal is loaded with extravagance that has no business being laid at the foot of local taxpayers in this community. First, regarding the synthetic turf field: Is the board aware synthetic fields are constructed of recycled tires, which include a host of harmful chemicals, mercury, lead, arsenic and other known carcinogens? The Environmental Protection Agency has studied them, and have referred to such studies as “limited,” further stating that “more testing needs to be done.” Is this a risk the board is willing to take? Then there’s the stadium-style field lighting.

Westlake is nestled in a residential neighborhood. While night games are fun, installing expensive field lighting that will impact the surrounding homeowners and their properties is careless.

Third, the construction of an extremely large auditorium with mezzanine seating – more seating than will probably ever be needed by the students, their families and even the community. For a district whose student body growth is forecast to remain relatively stagnant in the future, the auditorium this board has proposed screams of opulence.

At the current “per square foot” construction rates, any space-saving curtailment is a conscientious decision. Overall, spending $55.8 million to build a wonderland campus is not going to make our children perform better on their SATs, achieve higher scores on their AP courses or win more home football games. Nor will it increase the value of our homes.

Lastly, it pained me to see such little enthusiasm or collaboration upon ideas of private fundraising – yes, seeking donations, grants, or even hosting fundraisers -- to supplement part of this bond. When such ideas were brought to the table, they were brushed aside, with total responsibility for funding being pushed along to the taxpayers. If the bond gets voted down, consider the bright side – it will force the board to reconsider a more responsible option that the community will accept with open arms. Conversely, if it does get approved, I’m sure I will nonetheless be excited to see my children experience a wonderland campus. I might, however, secretly hope they don’t spend too much time on the rubber synthetic playing field. Mark Saracino

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