In just a matter of minutes after last week's election, the word had already hit the streets regarding the Mountain Home School District's plant facility levy. People in our community came together and provided their support to pass the $5 million levy.
I'd like to take a minute and personally thank those who ensured this levy not only passed but did so by an overwhelming majority.
The school district's response to the news was immediate and to the point. Shortly after its passage, the district's board of trustees made plans to approved the first in what I expect will be a lengthy list of construction projects that will alleviate a number of problems in our schools.
The project to fix the roof at Hacker Middle School was one that should've happened several years ago, but I'm excited that it's finally going to happen. With winter just around the corner, I don't believe that leaky roof could've survived another year before it finally collapsed.
Call me sentimental, but the schools in our district mean a lot to myself and my family. All three of my children attended classes in most of these buildings with my youngest graduating from Mountain Home High School last May.
I know a number of the teachers in the district, many of them by name. They also remember each of my children and will often ask me how they're doing.
You don't often see this type of personal connection between teachers and parents in larger school districts. From what I've been able to gather, the students in places like Boise or Caldwell are just another warm body filling a seat in a classroom.
Maybe that's why Mountain Home is so special. We have teachers that care about their students and parents that care about the education their children receive.
In fact, it was a group of concerned parents that helped make the plant facility levy happen in the first place. They were asked to come together and take a realistic, unbiased look at our schools to identify exactly what was wrong.
They not only highlighted the problems with the middle school roof, which was blatantly obvious, they discovered many additional issues in the other district buildings. Once they had this list of maintenance problems, they went ahead and tried to prioritize them based on what projects needed to happen immediately and which ones could wait until later if funding from the levy remained.
I'd like to take another minute and credit these individuals for volunteering their time to support an initiative that will yield a tremendous number of benefits for our schools for years to come. They should be proud of the hard work they invested on behalf of future students in our school district.
While I was delighted to see such a high turnout for these off-season election, I was equally disappointed and concerned that we had 399 people in this community that voted "no" to the levy. I suppose the real question I should ask is why.
To these individuals I have to ask two questions: Did you go to school, and if so, did you earn a diploma?
If these critics went to school, then guess what? Someone out there paid their taxes so these people could attend a nice school with certified teachers in each classroom with textbooks that helped guide them to graduation.
So if someone paid for these naysayers to go to school, why are they so reluctant to return the favor? Why don't they ensure our children and grandchildren can have the same opportunities to go to schools in buildings where the roofs don't leak and they have the needed resources to help them succeed?
On the other hand, if these people didn't go to school or lack a high school diploma, I have a suggestion: Enroll in classes and finish your degree. You might learn something productive and very useful along they way.
Ultimately, however, I think the main problem here deals with just one word: taxes. It seems that once someone even mutters that word in this town, there are those out there that immediately go out and "circle the wagons" as they dig in their heels and take up defensive fighting positions.
It seems as if none of these people want to pay taxes for anything -- unless of course their house catches fire, someone tries to rob them, the road in front of their house is falling apart or they need an ambulance to take them to the hospital. That's when they'll demand to have a fire truck, police car, construction team or paramedic showing up at their doorstep.
I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. We pay our taxes so these resources are in place before we need them.
And that's exactly what we're going to do now that we've passed this levy. We're going to "pay it forward" to the next generations of students so they can be successful in life and carry on the responsibility to the following generations.
-- Brian S. Orban