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The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

Support renovation bond vote for Bellows Falls Middle School

Originally published in The Commons issue #99 (Wednesday, May 4, 2011).

Why should Rockingham taxpayers approve the renovation bond vote for the Bellows Falls Middle School?

Because our children deserve to learn in a modernized building with proper ventilation, heating, and natural light.

Because the building is in the center of our community; it would be the death of Bellows Falls if it were abandoned and boarded up with pigeons flying through it.

The old high school was built solid and built to last. It is the systems within it that have failed. Renovating the Bellows Falls Middle School with green building technologies will generate local jobs and is the best option in reducing our carbon footprint.

The marble staircase and brass fittings, archways, and historic murals that adorn our middle school could never be duplicated in a new building, nor could the magnificent auditorium.

Our middle schoolers walk to school, walk to the recreation center, walk to the hydro dam and fish ladder, walk to the historical society, the train station, and other downtown parks and historic sites. The village is the classroom.

The proposed renovation project will allow citizens requiring handicapped accessibility to enter the building through the front door. It will create learning labs and community meeting areas in space that is currently underutilized. It will keep our fifth- and sixth-graders together on their own floor, and seventh- and eighth-graders on their own respective floors. There is green space planned for the site, with gardens and benches for kids to visit with their friends.

The Rockingham taxpayers authorized the Rockingham School Board to spend $20,000 last year for a study and to draw up architectural plans to renovate the middle school. They have done their due diligence.

There is $11 million dollars in stimulus bond funds currently available in Vermont with bond rates as low as 1 percent available on a first-come, first-served basis. This project is pre-approved by the state as a qualified school construction project to receive these low-interest bonds, which will save us millions of dollars in interest payments.

This is the most affordable and best option for Rockingham.

Please vote yes on May 17th to renovate the Bellows Falls Middle School.

Suzanne Groenewold

Bellows Falls

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