Dear Mr. Rosenwald (School Board President):
As a 31 year resident of Lower Merion, I have always been proud of the manner in which the local government officials have made thoughtful, long range plans to enhance the quality of life for the residents of the township which has benefited students, parents and those with no children who are residents of the township. This history has now been distorted by the actions of the current School Board.
It is my hope that the School Board will give the citizens a chance to decide the major issues.
Over the past several years, I have become increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of control of spending demonstrated by the School Board. Continual significant cost over-runs for construction costs clearly demonstrates a lack of good management. Based on past outcomes of budgeted construction expenses, the likelihood of the proposed high school budget being close to the final cost is extremely unlikely.
The cost per student in Lower Merion is not a model of good fiscal planning and management. If all of the students who reside in Lower Merion actually went to public schools, the cost to the residents would make it prohibitive to live in the township.
While I am in favor of replacing the high schools, there is absolutely no reason that both high schools must be built at the same time. The disruption, and associated expenses, to the students and residents of the township far exceeds what could have resulted if thoughtful planning had been done.
To the average citizen, the School Board is almost an invisible entity compared with the Township Board of Commissioners. It is very difficult for residents to know who would really care if they wrote, called or went to see a School Board member. This leaves the citizens frustrated and feeling left out of very important matters that heavily impact the quality of education and taxes in our township.
To move things forward, I suggest the School Board publish a full page ad in the local papers listing the specific advantages and disadvantages of (1) building the new high schools, (2) having concurrent construction and (3) the impact that concurrent construction will have on the use of private and public facilities currently used by the residents and students of the township for sports, Main Line School Night, etc..
After all citizens are shown a basic, easy to understand “advantages vs. disadvantages” list, they should be allowed to vote on the matter in a referendum, as allowed by law. I request such a referendum take place.
James W. Mackie