South Tama Education President urges bond issue support

Letter to the Editor:

I moved here 10 years ago in order to teach at the elementary. Within that time, I have bought a house, learned more about our community, and have taken an active part in ensuring we have the best educators at STC. As a parent, teacher, and president of the South Tama Education Association (a collective of teachers working to ensure the best for your children and our teachers), I see a desperate need for a new middle school addition to be attached to the high school.

From the outside, the current middle school is a beautiful brick building. The maintenance staff have worked hard to patch the building together to allow students and teachers to use the building for learning. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the district has outgrown the building. When the elementary was built, preschool was shared with kindergarten. We now have a thriving preschool program, which means the elementary needed space to accommodate their programs. When fifth grade was moved to the middle school, an already congested building started to bust at the seams. Teachers are teaching in closet spaces. Rooms were divided and teachers started teaching off carts in shared classrooms to maintain the education our children deserve. The old building is also not able to accomodate the number of bodies that need to move around. Moving up and down the stairs can be hazardous because of the sheer number of students who need to get from one place to another. Teachers try to keep a safe passing time, but the stairs are too congested. The weather impacts each room differently; some are hot while others are freezing in the winter.

I am a property owner and taxpayer in this community. I am encouraged to know our school board has worked hard to make sure we don’t have a property tax raise because of this building. I know this is true not only because of the communication that has been shared through the different media channels, but I have been to virtually every school board meeting and work session this year. No decision has been made lightly or without all avenues being explored. I went to the Iowa Juvenile Home tour to see the size of the rooms. We would be no better off if we bought the property. I attended the public meeting with Invision to learn how many complications our district (and students) would encounter with the years of construction it would take to renovate the current middle school. I have also listened to our school board members explore, discuss, and explain why a new high school is not the best option for our community because of school financing rules and regulations.

March 3rd is rapidly approaching. It is my hope that all voters are accurately informed about this vote and how it will impact our lives and children. I encourage everyone to come to the board meetings, seek answers from southtamabond.org, and read the newspaper articles and flyers that have circulated to vote for our future, our students, and our community.

Heather Garrett

South Tama Education Association President