Local view: Don’t buy into fear; new schools are a necessity for HermantownThe woman in the picture is me in 2006. Those temporary wooden braces were holding up the ceiling around my desk for a couple of weeks until it could be made safe again. The ceiling had just collapsed in the classroom across the hall from my Hermantown Middle School office, and the structural advisers determined the ceiling above my desk was in imminent danger of also falling.
By: Debi Francisco, for the News Tribune
The woman in the picture is me in 2006. Those temporary wooden braces were holding up the ceiling around my desk for a couple of weeks until it could be made safe again. The ceiling had just collapsed in the classroom across the hall from my Hermantown Middle School office, and the structural advisers determined the ceiling above my desk was in imminent danger of also falling.
Seven years later I hope I am no longer in danger, but I do get chills when I think of what could happen in a classroom if another ceiling were to fall during school hours.
The maintenance staff has an endless job of keeping up with repairs and making the school look shiny and clean. But what is below the surface that you can’t always see, touch and smell? Built in 1937, Hermantown Middle School can no longer be patched and repaired. It’s crumbling. Water is deep in the walls. And air-quality issues reoccur time after time.
I wonder how many adults would enjoy being in this environment eight hours a day, five days a week. And yet it’s OK to subject 800 kids to this? I am concerned about what health problems we may have in the future because of exposure.
Our computers have poor network connectivity due to inadequate wiring and power failures. At times we cannot provide modern technology throughout the building.
Water pipes burst and spew more moisture to encourage yet more mold growth.
We dress for summer in the middle of winter in the office, yet the library and several classrooms are freezing; the boilers no longer function efficiently within the main structure nor within our six additions.
If you still need proof of poor conditions, please come to one of two scheduled 20-minute tours of the middle school on Oct. 22 and Oct. 27.
You might ask yourself why, after 20 years, I continue to work at Hermantown Middle School. I love my job, the staff, the students and the community that now has the power to determine whether we invest in the future or fall sadly behind. A referendum for money to upgrade Hermantown’s schools is on the Nov. 5 ballot.
If you don’t have time to visit the schools and witness the critical needs and the poor air quality, seek out informed people and read accurate information.
There is a group of citizens opposing the bond referendum in Hermantown, trying to create fear. There is a political tactic called FUD, which is a strategy used when your idea is not being received favorably so your only choice is to try and create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in your opposition’s recommendation. However, if you really understand the facts about an issue, fear, uncertainty and doubt can never trump that truth.
I hope all Hermantown voters understand the real truth regarding this referendum. There are facts and figures that show that our schools do not meet many of the Minnesota Department of Education’s educational adequacy standards (see hawkpride.org). The state department’s guidelines suggest when the estimated cost to renovate exceeds 60 percent of the cost to build new, it is more effective to build new.
The citizen-developed facilities plan that was accepted and proposed by our School Board has been approved by Minnesota Department of Education. Its improvements are now a necessity.
Nobody likes their taxes to go up, but we need to invest in our kids. How often do we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on thousands with one yes vote?
This great community of ours begins and ends with our schools; and so many parents staff, and community members have worked tirelessly toward the goal of providing a safe, secure environment for the students of Hermantown. It’s time to pay it forward for the current 2,000 students at Hermantown and the kids of tomorrow.
Please vote yes for Hermantown kids on Nov. 5.
Debi Francisco is the Hermantown Middle School secretary.