A letter to which I was a willing co-signer appeared yesterday in the Daily Times.
In it, the nine of us who comprise the body agreed that two key votes made by our County Council were emblematic of their promise of fiscal responsibility and accountability.
Obviously the vote to push back Bennett Middle School construction by one year was not taken lightly, but we felt it was the right decision at a time when the county isn’t in a position to be forced to repay indebtedness. And while it seemed like an easier decision on the surface to call for an elected school board, it was a vote we’ve seen not taken by previous County Councils – even the last one where Republicans were in the majority.
At this time, our county exists in a situation akin to that of the federal government – a strong, left-of-center executive being kept in check by a conservative legislative body. Of course, Rick Pollitt isn’t exactly Barack Obama but he spent the first three years of his tenure whining about revenue lost to him because the county has a revenue cap – it was only when re-election stared him in the face that he moderated his tune. (Indeed, we may see this about 120 miles up the road in Washington, D.C. as well.)
But here was a chance to give the County Council some ‘attaboys’ (and ‘attagirls’) for making a tough but correct decision. When you think about it, students have succeeded from schools in far worse shape than Bennett Middle School – yes, the school shows its age but the building remains structurally sound. There’s no one rushing over to condemn it. And the new BMS may be overpriced – unfortunately, some of that cost comes from ill-considered state mandates like LEED Silver certification. (I’d like to know the payback period on these additional features, if there is one.) Unfortunately, we can’t build a functional, inexpensive school building anymore and expect state assistance.
There’s no doubt that the next 42 months or so will bring many more difficult decisions, but right now it’s a case of so far so good. Keep up the great work, folks!