As a graduate of Rye High School and parent to two Rye students, I am disappointed with the resistance being leveled against the vision for a next generation school system to serve the students of Rye. The focus by the detractors has been on what is “necessary” for our facilities to adequately service our students and community. There is little disagreement that adequate HVAC systems, facilities that meet code, and fixes to crumbling infrastructure are required (incidentally, this represents a large percentage of the monies requested).
Much of the opposition has focused on what some consider to be “nice to have” elements of the bond. These include upgrades to the school theaters, permanent structures to replace aging trailers, upgraded fields, improved libraries and science/engineering optimized classrooms. Our high school was built in 1931, 4 years after the invention of the television. It strikes me as profoundly absurd we would consider a facility approaching 90 years of age to continue satisfactorily serving students who will be seeking jobs that didn’t exist 5 years ago, much less 90. Furthermore, it is simply smart business to accomplish as much as possible, with a view toward the future, while the walls are open and the contractors are in. If we do not take this opportunity to comprehensively upgrade our learning environments, we have missed a major opportunity.
Our School Board and Superintendent have put a tremendous amount of thought into not only fixing required elements of our school infrastructure but building a vision for what our school should be in the upcoming decades. The realization of this vision will underpin a competitive and modern learning environment, not simply one this is adequate to meet the bare minimum requirements of a school system.
I encourage all of you to support our students and our community by voting Yes to all 3 propositions on June 11. If you are concerned about the tax impact, spend 3 minutes to calculate your potential taxes on the school site – I can almost guarantee it will be lower than you think. If you believe that upgrading our 90 year old structures to support 21st century needs is unnecessary, I implore that you rethink your position. If you do not have children, have kids who have graduated or have children who attend schools outside our school system, consider that in the long run, emergency repairs will likely cost us more than what is being proposed and that eventually, we will compromise our reputation as a top school district impacting our property values and the quality of our neighborhoods and community.