Having served on the Facilities Committee for the Dayton School District, I can assure the voters of Columbia County there isn’t a question you’ve asked yourselves or your neighbors about this project that we did not ask ourselves over the months the Facilities Committee met.
The committee, made up of business owners, parents of school-age children, community members, government representatives and school staff, spent months analyzing drawings and layouts, looking at costs, talking to bond companies, comparing levy rates, and agonizing over doing what’s right for both the taxpayers and the kids we’re responsible for educating.
This isn’t about a lack of maintenance. This is about a real fix for the failing systems in our school structures, and doing so in a way that is the most cost effective over time.
One of the most shocking discoveries I made while serving on this committee was how far behind we’ve fallen in the collection of bond funds compared to our neighbors. Waitsburg, Pomeroy, Prescott, Walla Walla, College Place — all of our neighboring school districts, with the exception of Dixie and Starbuck, have taxpayer-voted bonds used to upgrade their facilities. The taxpayers of Columbia County got a break — during the worst of the recession, they had no school bond on their tax bills.
Claims that our school tax rates are too high are unfounded. Our school tax rates have been the lowest in the region for years, and it is past time to renovate our school facilities.
We need a healthy downtown, hospital district and school system in order to attract new businesses and residents to our rural community. Who would want to live and work here, and bring their families here, only to send them to a school with falling down buildings? This isn’t just about our kids, it’s also about our economic future and what kind of message we’re sending to people looking to locate here.
The pride our citizens have taken in our other community assets — the Depot, the Courthouse, the theater, downtown — shows in the way these structures have been restored and maintained.
These structures didn’t get to the condition they’re in now without substantial capital investment.
Where’s the pride in our school structures, the ones that house our most precious future assets — our kids — and send a message to existing and potential new residents how much we value our educational system?
Let’s show that pride and take care of our kids and our school buildings by voting “yes” for the school bond.
Port of Columbia County