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Approve St. C Levy

Editor, News-Register:

I hope this letter reaches some of those who are on the fence about the St C. school bond issue or even the naysayers, as well as the bond issue supporters. I have been dismayed by the negativity, misinformation and publicity masquerading as “Stop and Learn the Facts,” delivered to my mailbox by an anonymous source and the illegal posters around town that don’t list the sponsoring organization.

One person suggested that the money would be misspent and given to the unions in salaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a BOND issue. It can only be spent on construction, technology and furniture, as noted in the description that will appear on the ballot.

People think “market value” is what you think you could sell your house for. Actually it is an auditor’s term, based on 35 percent of the appraised value of your home. If you receive a Homestead Exemption based on your age, that further decreases the amount of tax you pay. You can look up the exact amount of increase you’d pay by going to the www.BuildSTC.com site, but you can get an idea by just looking at your most recent tax bill from the Treasurer’s office and comparing it with the information from the Build STC Committee.

Contrary to the misleading flyer in my mailbox, if your home is assessed at $100,000, it has been appraised by the Treasurer at just under $288,000, selling probably in excess of $300,000 and indeed over 37 years would accrue a hefty sum in taxes. Not too many homes in our district fall into that category. It can also be expected that in 37 years, property values will increase and those tax dollars will be recouped just as they have been in the last 37 years. Rather than frightening and confusing people, why not look at a more reasonable Treasurer appraisal of a $100,000 home that might sell for $130,000. The assessed market value would be $35,000 and the tax increase would be $149.80 a half — $24.96 a month.

I’ve heard our test scores denigrated, yet no mention that St. Clairsville met the most indicators in our legislative district, thanks to our outstanding teachers. Perhaps those naysayers should pay a visit to the “A and B” schools to see what those students have to work with. I worked for the Department of Education and I’ve seen those schools. When I would leave them and think about my home district of St. C, I would want to weep at the environment in which our students and teachers had to work. Also, there are additional defining qualities besides test scores that create pride in a school district such as its music and art programs, the volunteer service hours students perform, scholarships received, percent of students who graduate, number of students who go on to higher education, the military or a job. The list goes on and on if you care about your schools.

The need for new buildings is not new. But the need becomes a more dramatic safety issue in the changing safety climate we have encountered as a country in the last 10 years. We are within a short distance of three exits to I-70, a major drug route. We have a prison in our district. We have more cars and traffic and teenage drivers than ever before. The plan set forth would bring peace of mind to parents and grandparents that their most precious commodity — our children — are in a safe environment.

I retired as superintendent of St. C 17 years ago when there were only two outlets in each classroom and we struggled with extension cords and outdated equipment. Well, nothing has changed. Good maintenance has enabled the buildings to be as updated as possible, but old infrastructure can be stretched only so far and the classrooms still have only two outlets. Testing mandates require young children to use computers to take state tests and compose essays. Computers require electricity and outlets. Testing has to be accomplished in shifts.

The very act of teaching has been enhanced by technology that requires updated facilities. To engage students in interactive learning, teaching looks different now with smart boards and Chrome books and cooperative grouping than it did when our buildings were constructed 47-94 years ago. How are our graduates to compete with students from other schools that have more advantages?

Have you been to the girls’ restroom in the middle school? The cubicles are tiny; it’s in the basement — inaccessible to anyone with a mobility issue. The same is true at the elementary, except that its classrooms and gym that are inaccessible.

All around us, districts are building new, beautiful state-of-the-art schools. Ohio County is spending nearly as much just to renovate as we are to build. When people move to our area, they look at the schools as an indicator of how much people care about their community — even if they don’t have children. We don’t show well.

The idea of a fine arts building may sound fancy, but it’s really the auditorium for the middle and high school — as we have now, but large enough to seat everyone, have classrooms for band, art and broadcast communication and additional classrooms used by both buildings. Think of the wonderful musicals that are performed for the community and the St.C Singers. Think of band concerts. Imagine a future where community groups might use the stage or auditorium. Communities thrive where there is a central gathering place. We need our schools for so many reasons.

Please vote YES. For the future — for the children — for the community.

Dr. Lorrinda Saxby

Retired Superintendent

St. Clairsville Schools

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