To the Editor:

Many thanks to the Commonwealth staff for recently highlighting the Ripon Area School Board’s facilities study committee.

District residents — this committee is your conduit into the facilities process. We have opened and will continue to open and notice committee meetings. We encourage you to attend, ask questions, and be directly involved in the decision-making process.

Is this study process necessary? Our middle school is around 90 years old and our high school around 50.

We continue to pump significant amounts of money into these facilities while also deferring extensive but needed maintenance-related renovations (e.g. high school swimming pool).

Future enrollment projections are less than concrete due to open enrollment, possible future school district consolidations, state funding limitations, emergence of online education and home-schooling, and numerous other factors.

Is it prudent to have a well-reasoned, long range plan that considers these issues? The board thinks so.

It is the board’s philosophy that a top-notch school district is a critical part of a vibrant community. And, in order to stay first-rate, this district needs modern facilities. ...

the board created the committee to determine whether district facilities meet the needs of top-notch 21st-century public education, and if not, determine which facilities should be updated or replaced and how.

Facilities modernization does not come without a price tag however. Thus, it is imperative that we get the facilities review process right.

To insure we get the process right, the committee is following a proven, systematic planning process that focuses on open dialog and extensive data collection to inform decision-making.

Unlike routine School Board meetings where residents are limited to only a three-minute statement, the facilities committee meetings are open, orderly and free exchanges of ideas [are welcomed] between all attendees — including district residents....

When the committee is satisfied that it has properly scoped the problem and collected sufficient data to facilitate effective decision-making, it will develop possible courses of action for the entire Board’s consideration.

District residents will continue to have input into this process.

All options are available right now. We could build a new facility on existing land or purchase new land for this purpose.

It might also be feasible to sell the land we have and modify existing facilities. Whatever the course of action chosen, no doubt it will be thoroughly researched and evaluated prior to its selection.

And if anyone owning property within the district might consider selling or donating property to the district, please identify your desires through Dr. Zimman or any of the board members. Your communications will be held in strict confidence....

Suffice it to say, this review will be a significant undertaking that will leave nothing unexplored.

We look forward to maximum participation from district residents in this process.

— Dan Zimmerman,

Chairman

205 State St.

Dave Olson

412 Hope Ave.

Gary Rodman

908 Nordane Ave.

Tom Stellmacher

1051 Dartford Road

RASD facilities study

committee members

To read the entire letter, see the Jan. 3, 2013 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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