2013-11-15 / Letters

Voters invited to tours and public forums

To the editor:

In January, the voters of RSU 21 will have an opportunity to provide our students, and all citizens in our communities, with an opportunity to bring our school facilities into the 21st century, as we will vote on major renovation projects to Kennebunk High School, Mildred L. Day School, and Kennebunkport Consolidated School.

Just as our neighbors in South Portland, Scarborough and Biddeford have done recently, we will be asked to pay for these renovations with local tax dollars, as there continue to be no state or federal funds available for providing our students with safe, efficient, attractive and educationally sound schools.

As we consider how to vote on this referendum, I would invite every voter to take advantage of the tours and public hearings that have been scheduled by the school district during the coming months. Specifically, I want to share my support for the proposal to renovate the high school.

The need is clear: Kennebunk High School, originally constructed in 1939, has not undergone significant work in more than 30 years.

The classrooms are too small, the lifesafety and mechanical systems are either non-existent or antiquated, the building envelope is inefficient and wasteful, and the access for individuals with disabilities is atrocious.

The high school building committee worked for nearly three years to develop a plan that meets the needs of our students while respecting the challenges for the taxpayers. A $55.3 million project is significant, but when boiled down to the individual, it is affordable for most of us with a small sacrifice of a dollar a day. More notably, for several reasons, the time to do this project is now.

The high school will only continue to crumble and require significant upgrades. Construction costs will only continue to rise each year. Interest rates are at the lowest we can expect them to be. To wait any longer will only make this project more costly for all of us and we will have failed to provide yet another generation of Kennebunk High School students with a facility that represents the value this community places on education.

Go to the public hearings next month, take a tour of the schools, read the information provided on the RSU 21 website.

This project is long overdue and will be cheaper to build now than at any time in the future. Let’s take this step for our students and our own property values. Vote yes on Jan. 21 to reaffirm our community as one of the most attractive places to live in northern New England. The payoff in the long run will be well worth it.

Elizabeth Emery
Kennebunk

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