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May 1, 2011
Salem News

Suggests checking out school

To the editor:

I am a United graduate, resident, and parent of two small children who will attend United Local Schools. Whether you are for or against the upcoming bond issue, I urge all residents to make it a priority to get to United for a tour before the election. The only way you can make an informed decision is to ask questions, see the paperwork , and check out the facility for yourself. If you can't visit United, go to to review the facts and photos of the building.

Most people who do not visit United on a regular basis probably think the building is just fine. I personally don't make it there too often, and when I do, it's to see a play, watch a game or eat breakfast. All of these events take place in the newer part of the school. When was the last time you were in the elementary? Take a tour before May 3, and this is what you will see

1. Countless physical problems such as cracked walls, deteriorating bricks, leaky roofs, and windows and blinds that don't open and can't be fixed. The lights are extremely inefficient and costly, there are wires and extension cords everywhere, and there is one over-burdened electrical transformer to support the entire facility.

2. Classrooms are ridiculously small. These were fine when they were built in the 50s and kids sat at their desks all day while teachers lectured. Let's face it, education has changed drastically. Learning is much more hands-on, interactive, and project based, because students learn better that way! There is definitely not adequate room for this type of learning. See for yourself and compare the old classrooms to the size of the newer kindergarten rooms.

3. United has inadequate room for gym, art, Vo-Ag, Title and gifted services. Title services are vital in keeping our school district rated as "excellent," Vo-Ag has always been an award-winning program at United, and gym and art classes provide a much need outlet for kids to move and be creative. Think of the time wasted trekking back and forth in freezing cold weather, not to mention how long doors are held open for multiple classes going in and out. This taxes the already inefficient heating system even more.

4. The elementary cafeteria and kitchen are incredibly small. It's a miracle that the staff manages to feed 700 students a day in that space! Kids still have to line up to get their lunch in the hallway opposite classrooms. That's a 2.5 hour distraction for the nearby classes since lunch has to start at 10:45 a.m.

5. United is so old that it can't be wired properly for technology. There is only one outlet in many of the rooms, making it very difficult for using computers, projectors, etc. If United had a new building, it would be equipped with the latest technology. This should not be seen as frivolous or an "extra." This is a requirement for students to succeed in 21 century careers.

The philosophy of "if it's not broken, don't fix it" does not apply to most of United's structure. Trying to fix these problems and countless more, would cost a fortune. That's why the OSFC recommended that we start fresh, rather than try to renovate. If we do not take advantage of paying only 21 percent of the cost for a new school, we will most likely have to pass a levy in a few more years to raise the money for all of these serious problems. Do we want to keep pouring money into old United, or do we want to spend that same amount of money and get a brand new building that will last another 50 to 60 years? We could wait until the roof is actually collapsing to rebuild, but then we wouldn't be getting 79 percent of the funds from the state.

Critics have suggested that United's calculations of future expenses are all wrong. However, I think I'll trust the people in charge the same people who have kept United in the black for many years. The same critics bring up area schools that are now struggling. These schools aren't struggling because they built new facilities. They would be in the same situation had they stayed in their old buildings. It's not as if they funded their new schools from their operating funds, and now they have run dry! United has always been a fiscally sound and responsible school district. While countless other schools have had to lay off teachers, United hasn't had to. Why? Because overall, United has always been very careful with our money, and I see no reason why that would not continue.

Personally, I don't like to throw money or a great opportunity away. If the state will provide 79 percent of the funds, we really need to consider what is best for our futureour children. We may never have this chance again! Please get to United for a tour, please get out to vote on May 3, and please do what is right for our students!





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