Reprinted from Ridgewood News 12/4/09:
This Tuesday, village residents will be asked to approve a $48 million bond referendum to upgrade school buildings and fields. If residents approve the bond referendum, taxpayers will contribute an average of $300 per year for the next 25 years to pay it off.
There are dissenting opinions on the issue: Some residents see the project as a necessity, some want it scaled back, while others don't think now is the right time. District officials are hoping that the bond is approved, because if it is, the state will chip in about $12 million to get the projects completed.
Many Ridgewood residents are proud of their homes, making necessary upgrades and repairs to maintain the value of their properties. That same pride must be shown to the village's communal properties, including the schools.
Would a Ridgewood homeowner ignore a roof leak, rodent infestations, or crumbling walls? Highly unlikely.
Would a Ridgewood resident let a child sleep in a hallway? Probably not, but some village students are now taking classes in school hallways.
Some will argue that fiscal restraint should be shown because of the economic recession. But spending money on much-needed repairs is not frivolous - if the damage gets worse, it will cost more. And if the bond is not approved, the district will lose the state aid for the project, and may never get that money back.
Two major complaints from residents opposed to the referendum are the installation of turf fields and air conditioning in the auditorium at Benjamin Franklin Middle School (BF).
BF has the largest auditorium in all Ridgewood schools, used by Jamboree, Dad's Night and some elementary school productions. In May and June, it can be sweltering. It is often rented by outside organizations - producing income for the Board of Education - and would be more attractive to other potential renters if air conditioning were installed.
The installation of turf fields will allow the football field to be used for more than football, which is only fair for all the other Ridgewood High School teams.
Village residents will make the ultimate decision on whether this project proceeds or not. We think there are too many reasons to vote in favor of the proposal than let the opportunity slip away.
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