Editorial: YES for Lakewood
No one likes paying more taxes. But neither should Lakewood be educating its youngest students (Kindergarten through Second Grade) in a building more than 100 years old.
The Hebron Elementary School building has served this community well for many years, but it is no longer an acceptable school building. The classrooms are too small for today’s teaching methods. The school becomes unbearably hot when temperatures outside reach the 80’s and above. The only tools to address the heat are a makeshift network of fans and the occasional early dismissal. The heat is particularly oppressive in some second floor classrooms where a roof reflects heat into the classrooms. There is a very noticeable increase in temperature when you walk into those classrooms from the hallway.
The building is not handicap accessible. Another makeshift network – this time of chair lifts – makes it possible for disabled students to access the basement and first floor, but not the second floor. The cafeteria is too small and is located in the low-ceiling basement. While the school’s staff obviously tries to brighten and cheer up the old building, its physical limitations can’t be overcome.
We know some voters are upset that the district spent close to $3 million for a new football stadium complete with synthetic turf before addressing the district’s most pressing need – a new elementary school. We share that disgust.
That poor decision can’t be undone, but Lakewood votes spoke loudly last November, replacing the incumbent board members seeking reelection. After two resignations earlier this year, Lakewood now has a completely new school board. They have asked questions and reevaluated priorities. Consequently, the size of the bond issue has been reduced. The new board members also wisely rejected using Certificates of Participation (COP) lease-purchase financing as part of the financial package. While it doesn’t require voter approval and thus could make the bond issue smaller, COPs have a higher interest rate than long-term bonds. We’re also confident that board members will continue to ask questions during the key design and construction stages, helping hold down costs and cost overruns.
It’s simply time to replace a very old school building. At this point, a “no” vote only punishes our youngest students and a very dedicated Hebron staff. Even with approval next week, students and staff still have two more years in a no longer suitable building. With increase rates and inflation starting to creep up, it makes no sense to kick this can down the road. No one else is going to build Lakewood a new elementary school! It’s up to the Lakewood community to get it done. YES for Lakewood!