By Mary Loftis—

Two years ago a bond to allow the renovation of the gym wing of ConVal High School lost by 23 votes. Consequently, the serious problems in that end of the 40-year-old building persist, and the District is again seeking authority to borrow money to address them. This year the proposed bond is for $4 million, almost a million dollars less than in 2010.

The gym provides not only an athletic venue but also serves as ConVal’s (and the community’s) largest public space. Games, concerts, assemblies, meetings, rainy-day graduations and craft fairs are held there. Most everyone in the nine-town District has spent time in that gym – and yet it is outdated and not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – nor Title IV, the federal law that mandates equal opportunities and facilities for male and female athletes.

A subcommittee of the Budget and Property committee, with input from architects, formulated three options that address the important deficits in the gym area in slightly different ways, all within the $4 million price tag. The School Board chose one of these options at its February 7 meeting.

It will upgrade the gym with a badly needed new floor and lighting, provide ADA-compliant access and bathrooms, update HVAC, mechanical and electrical systems to meet today’s energy standards, and address Title IX issues by providing equal facilities for boys and girls. In addition, the renovations will create adequate space for PE, Health and Athletic programs, as well as new space for offices, classrooms, team rooms, a fitness and weight room, and storage.

This project is viable because of the financial conditions that currently exist: our current debt service will be paid off in 2012, and this new debt service is not scheduled to begin until July of 2013. In addition, current interest rates are historically low, and some State Building Aid is available for specific projects within the renovation. To put the cost in perspective, the projected annual tax impact on a $200,000 home would range from $36 to $51 (depending on town) using current valuations.

It is our financial responsibility to maintain our school facilities, and it is our legal and moral responsibility to make them accessible to all of our citizens.

March 13 is the day to say YES to the bond, Warrant Article 1.

Mary Loftis is Dublin’s representative to the ConVal School Board for SAU 1.

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