Letter to the Editor:
On April 21st, Chatham Borough and Chatham Township residents go to the polls to vote on the 2015-2016 School Operating Budget and a $24.8 million Bond Referendum. School budget votes have been made or broken by a handful of votes. With critical capital improvements on the line, it’s more important than ever to have your voice count by casting your vote.
There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding the bond referendum. Underlying opponents’
concerns seems to be a general mistrust of the process employed by the Board of Ed and the
Administration. They question whether the Board listened to community input. They suggest that the Board of Ed and/or the Administration somehow “stand to gain” from this referendum. And they suggest that the Board has not adequately considered alternatives, varying scenarios and a host of other considerations, putting “nice-to-haves” ahead of education.
It is very easy to allow the list of questions and challenges to create doubt but I want to make one point that will hopefully give perspective to those who have been side-lined by the “whys” and “what-ifs”.
The vast majority of community members who have penned their support for the referendum are the same folks who have been witness, judge and constructive contributor to the process for years. These folks didn’t just jump into the discussion. They have been on the front line, some for over a dozen years.
They actively volunteer in the school system helping in any way they can to ensure continued excellence in our schools. They’ve attended budget and curriculum meetings, well beyond this immediate discussion, and they’ve questioned the process, made suggestions and challenged the status quo.
They’ve combed through the budget details and they understand the dynamics of State constraints on operating budgets, the pressures of enrollment growth and the many complexities of implementing capital improvements in a busy school system. They have not “drunk the kool-aide” as one suggested but rather support this important referendum based on knowledge, insight and history.
These long-term, front-line observers will tell you that the Administration and Board of Education have always been well thought out, community involved and forward thinking. This referendum is no different. It is the culmination of years of input by the community and thorough analysis by the
Administration and Board of Education. There is no one on the BOE or administration that stands to personally gain from the referendum passing. They are tasked with delivering the best school system possible at a reasonable cost and they have delivered on this task faithfully for many years.
As one of the many old-timer, front-line observers, I look forward to casting my Yes vote for this sound, forward-thinking referendum and I hope you will do the same.