"Proposition S for Rockwood is No-Brainer," Says Parent
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: One Rockwood School District parent invites others to look at what he calls the reality of this bond issue. "There are three dimensions to this bond issue, made in close consultation with families throughout the district."
Once in a while, something comes along that is a “no-brainer”—it is hard to imagine why it would face any resistance or rejection. In my mind, Proposition S, the no tax rate hike bond issue proposed by Rockwood School District schools, is the latest in these “no brainers.” For no increase in our tax rates, our schools can receive desperately needed attention in areas critical for our students’ education and safety.
Of course, even no-brainers find resistance. Critics complain Prop S proponents are praying on fears by promoting safety, and that there is nothing for free. Let’s look at the reality of this bond issue.
There are three dimensions to this bond issue—three targets of funding the school district, in close consultation with families throughout the district—determined to be paramount. These areas (school physical improvements, technology upgrades, and safety modifications) comprise a bond package that was shaped around months of meetings and solicited feedback that were very public and very transparent. A number of priorities were identified as essential, but the Picture Rockwood process vetted all visions of budget prioritization and arrived at what we now call Prop S.
Each of these three areas is essential to the future of our schools.
We have kitchens, dining areas, and locker rooms that are not able to physically accommodate the student population of their schools. The age and state of disrepair in some of these areas have been directly traced to infections, unique and challenging scheduling strategies, and a falling woefully short of federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for access. We have technology upgrades that were high priorities years ago, and are now imperative. National requirements for assessment testing will require online testing within the next two years; our school district must make current and more plentiful its laptop and desktop computers to meet mandates for testing. Regarding safety, improvements will allow for state-of-the art measures, such as new locks on classroom doors and check-in stations at schools, that will make our already safe schools even more secure, substantially reducing safety risks for our children. All schools in the district will see technology and safety improvements.
I sincerely hope any outspoken critics of Prop S, particularly those who purport to have the welfare of our children foremost in their mind, were active in the Picture Rockwood process, and are contributors to alternative responses to the needs addressed in Prop S.
The sad reality is Rockwood has maintained a fiscally sound approach to budget management for years, despite a shrinking budget and a failed 2012 bond issue. We are one of only four districts in Missouri with an AAA bond rating, a sign of a history of fiscal responsibility. The district is out of cuts it can make that will not be more readily seen in our schools, and more negatively impacting to our students.
The time for this bond issue is now.
Praying on our fears? Never has the district claimed our children are not safe. At the same time, it is reasonable that in the face of tragedies like the one in Connecticut we can, and should, assess ways to improve ourselves for the future. The district is proposing safety upgrades as equally important to the other two dimensions of this bond package.
And nothing for free? True—but this bond issue is a way of maintaining our history of strong financial management, maintaining our mandated 18 percent contingency in our budget, and addressing needs whose urgency is such that operational funds will need to be spent in the future if we can’t fund them through a bond issue now. Moreover, we can address these needs with no increase to our tax rates. These needs will not go away.
Criticism absent alternative solutions will only placate the realities of these needs for so long. Our children deserve a proactive, responsible plan for making their schools stronger. They deserve a yes vote on Prop S.
Rockwood School District Parent