2016-09-01 / Letters

More assessments would paralyze school project

To the editor:

In 2012, an assessment on the physical condition of all Saco schools was conducted at a cost of about $30,000. A copy of this assessment is available at the school department website.

Using this assessment, a construction committee made up of school board and city council members, numerous city administrators and many others was formed to plan for a needed overhaul of Saco’s K-2 schools. This overhaul would get our children out of temporary trailers and into a new Young School. It would also expand Fairfield School so Saco could accept state funds to start a pre-K program in both schools. After almost two years of monthly meetings that included resident workshops and surveys, the committee gave their data to the school board who approved the project in February. The board requested for the city council to let Saco residents vote on bonding this project in November because of an expected high voter turnout. Also, some current bonds will be paid off at this time so there would be no major impact on taxes caused by this project.

Only a final vote by the city council on Tuesday, Sept. 6 is needed to put this project before voters. But now, the residents group, Saco Citizens for Sensible Government, is suggesting that unless another expensive assessment of all schools is done, the city council should consider not allowing Saco voters to vote on this bond for possibly a few more years.

There is a common affliction in politics called “analysis paralysis.” This is where people can avoid making controversial decisions by requesting that study upon study be made before they decide. My fear is that this paralysis may afflict certain council members and our school project may become another “Stackpole Bridge affair.” This simple bridge overhaul has repeatedly been postponed by the council as they conduct more expensive assessments of the project.

The expensive 2012 school assessment was sufficient for the construction committee and for the school board to make their decision. If there are problems with this assessment, the resident’s group should spend the next couple months educating voters on its shortcomings. But at the Sept. 6 meeting, the council should vote to let the voters of Saco be the ones who decide if they want to postpone a state funded pre-K program, and let K-2 students remain in trailers for years to come while we spend more money and time on assessments.

Ted Sirois Saco School Board, Ward 6

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