By RICK NEBEL
This is a response to Sharon Dry’s letter on the mill levy. I grew up in Springfield Illinois. Springfield is the capitol city of Illinois, and the State of Illinois is by far the largest employer in the city. In the 1960s those jobs were largely political jobs (this was before civil service) and most people would take those jobs with the idea that they would live in Springfield for 4 or 8 years and then go elsewhere. Consequently, a large part of the electorate felt that they didn’t have much vested interest in funding the city or its schools.
I’m a baby boomer, and our population group swamped the educational system. We desperately needed to add a fourth high school to the city. The high school I went to, Springfield High School, was opened the year after my grandmother graduated from the previous Springfield High School. Thus, even the existing facilities were not modern.
The only way to fund a new school was through a school bond issue. This is the only tax that people ever got to vote on. They voted it down at least 3 times. People didn’t come out and publicly oppose it, they just voted no.
Consequently, we had 2,500 students in a school that was built for 1,100. We were so overcrowded that we went on split shifts. The Juniors and Seniors went from 7 a.m. to noon and the Freshmen and Sophomores went from noon to 5 p.m. Instructional periods were shortened by 5-10 minutes. Study halls were eliminated. Most classes had over 30 students. There was no cohesion in the school at all since you never even saw half of the other students.
However, the worst of it was the message that the adults sent to the students. The message was that they didn’t give a rat’s behind whether the students were educated or not. The students felt like they had zero support from the community.
I don’t have any children in the Los Alamos Public Schools. I also suspect that I pay more property tax than most people in the community do. I’m voting for the school bond issue. I don’t want to treat our students in Los Alamos the same way I was treated in high school.