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Opinion: Has concerns about replacement school levy

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While carefully considering my vote on the School levy, I find myself getting more and more annoyed at the stance of both the Ferndale School District and its “Yes” campaign supporters.

First of all, I’m annoyed that most costs of the “Yes” campaign are being paid out of the pockets of every taxpayer and not just “Yes” supporters. In addition, it’s a safe bet that outside “establishment” money is also bolstering their efforts. On the other side, all campaign expenses (if any) for the “No” vote must be paid from individual pockets. Not exactly a fair fight!

And second, I’m very annoyed that the FSD has shown absolutely no interest in reconsidering the plan or cost burden of the new high school. This luxury facility as originally conceived may no longer be appropriate (if it ever was). If the FSD sincerely wants support for the Levy, it should unequivocally announce its clear intention to reconsider the project based on likely changes to the education landscape that will emerge after the pandemic. As a “Yes” supporter recently stated, the interest costs alone for the bonds will “only” be about $50 million, meaning the total burden on taxpayers (in addition to the levy) will be over $160 million charged to homeowners’ tax accounts – an additional frightening thought as Halloween approaches.

Besides the pandemic, there are many rapidly emerging trends in education that warrant consideration. The “physical” classroom and “one-size-fits-all” approach are being rapidly eroded by technology and other 21st century realities. I vote to take a step back for several months to totally review the new reality presented in the coming years.

Jim Pettinger

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