My town Brookfield residents — choose wisely, vote yes

March 2, 2019

Brookfield residents should vote yes on the referendum for the New School Project on Tuesday, March 5th.

Fact: there’s no option where the town doesn’t spend money. The question is whether we’ll choose to spend wisely.

This plan has unanimous, bipartisan support from the Board of Education, the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, and the Planning Commission. The Brookfield Democratic Town Committee supports it, as does the Republican Town Committee.

Both Center School and Huckleberry Hill are old buildings fraught with problems. A professional architectural analysis revealed what many parents and staff already knew — these facilities are well past their useful life.

Without this project, we would spend an estimated $20 million over the next 10 years just to maintain these two buildings. Maintain. In other words, if the town does not choose wisely, we will spend one-third of the cost of a new, modern building that’s designed for education and communities today just to maintain two old buildings that will never meet our needs. And, at the end of those 10 years, we will still have to do something with those two, even older buildings.

That’s just not cost effective.

You may wonder why this plan has such wide support. A few points to consider:

This plan was developed through a multi-year, disciplined process that included stakeholders from town boards, our schools, parents, the community, the Municipal Building Committee, and an architectural firm specializing in this area.

There were multiple opportunities for community input via town-wide meetings, surveys, and a website, all of which were promoted through several town and school newsletters.

Ten options were developed. Those options included both “renovate as new” (repairing the current buildings) and new construction plans. The options were presented to the community and narrowed down by the Strategic Facilities Committee and through community input.

This plan is a middle-ground proposal. It’s not a meets-minimum level plan, but it’s not the most extravagant, expensive option either.

If we want to be more than a collection of houses, and instead be a community of value, every child must be our child. We need to invest in the future of our community knowing this is good for the child that will use this school even if our own will not.

If that doesn’t resonate with you, think of it this way. If you want your house to have value, a good school system is critical. In this case, doing what’s best for the community and what’s best for the individual happens to be the same thing.

We must make this investment in our children and in our town. Vote yes on Tuesday, March 5th at your usual polling location (Huckleberry Hill Elementary School or Brookfield High School) between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Laura Orban is chairman of the Brookfield Democratic Town Committee.

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