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A Longmeadow legacy

There are very few times in our town's history when a single vote will influence the future of generations to come. This is one of those times.
We are being asked by some to vote for an $80 million construction project on a new high school building. The economic impact of this decision will outlive many of us in town as well as the current school board. As a vanity project a shiny new high school will look physically beautiful after its construction. In five years the cracks in the walls, chipped paint and leaky windows will inevitably appear. In fact in five years we might not notice that the new high school is much different than our current one. Such are the ravages of time on buildings.
The question will be, in five years what will be the true cost of our previously shiny building? Will the economic toll that this $80 million debt will have on our town allow us to maintain the building that we built? Will our students have the latest textbooks, laboratory equipment and computers to work with remember the huge debt that we are leaving to be repaid with interest? Most importantly, will we be able to hire the best and brightest teaches, in adequate numbers to maintain the highest standards and reasonable class sizes that we have come to expect? These are the big questions.
Some will tell you that we can afford it all. The problem is, if they are wrong there is no turning back. There is no return policy on the new school. We will have financially crippled our school system and town for generations to come.
As parents we are often called upon by our children to buy the latest new toy. As parents we know that the responsible decision is often to say no. This year's new toy is in next year's garage sale. Meanwhile we have the fiscal responsibility to assure that we have the needed funds to provide what our children really need including education.
It is time for us as responsible parents in Longmeadow to say no to the latest shiny new toy. We have the responsibility to look forward 10 and 20 years to make sure that our children's future economic needs will be met. We have a legacy to leave a nice new building or fiscal solvency for the future.
We all must decide and this is probably the most important vote in our town in many years. Think hard before saying yes to what may be the worst decision in our town's recent history.
Thank you for your careful consideration in the voting booth.
Susan Altman
Longmeadow