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A conversation with Rangely School Board President Matt Scoggins:
Q: Do you feel like the board has made its case in its $15 million bond initiative to make repairs and improvements to all three schools?
Answer: I believe the board has made a strong case in our request for the bond. We understand that the facilities of the district are an instrumental part of our educational process and also a source of pride in our community and have worked hard to identify what is needed in order to maintain and improve the facilities so they are safe and up-to-date. We have sought input from district employees, community members, as well as engaged the professional services of Chevron and the Blythe Group to help us identify and prioritize our needs in this process. We have made the information available on the Internet at www.were-4kids.org and have had an open house and have been willing to adjust the list as we get new and better information.
Q: In your conversations with people, what have you found are the most compelling arguments?
A: In general, the people that I have talked with are very supportive of education, but skeptical of the government, a point that I share at times. They worry that money from the bond will be treated like a blank check and the funds will be frivolously spent with little oversight (remember the “bridge to nowhere”). To address those concerns we have a well-developed list of items that came from the earlier mentioned studies with estimated costs. We also recognize the need for community members to stay involved, so that we get the best services for the dollar and that we avoid the mistakes made by previous contractors who did not understand the nuances of Rangely.
Q: How would you describe the board’s outlook on the election: Is it optimistic? Is it confident? Is it uncertain?
A: I would say we are cautiously optimistic. We have invested a lot of time and effort into this process and see the need for these improvements in order for the children of Rangely to have safe and up-to-date schools and, consequently, have high hopes for passage of the bond.
Q: How much of a factor do you think the economic times will have on the election?
A: There are a number of people on fixed incomes as well as those stuck in salary schedules that have not increased at the same rate as costs here in Rangely. Sure, there are some making good incomes, but ask them how their retirement account looks right now and they sound a little bleak. So, yes, people will be skeptical of any tax increase right now, but, fortunately, people understand the long-term benefits of education and how important it is to our future economy. Invest now and see rewards later.
Q: Energy companies would pay 80 percent or better, right? Is that a compelling argument for doing this now, plus the rising costs of construction?
A: The foundation of our community is the hard-working people of the energy companies and the businesses they work for. They have been a great help through the years and without them we wouldn’t have been able to build the facilities in the first place. Yes, they have carried the burden of the taxes, but they have continued to show support as they recognize the benefit to their employees and families. I wouldn’t say, however, that we are doing this now because they will bear the brunt of the tax increase; rather we are doing it now because the current condition of our schools demands that we do it now. One of the last figures I heard suggested the rate of inflation for construction is closer to 18.5 percent. So, yes, we would like to move forward sooner than later.
Q: Lastly, are you comfortable the board did everything it could to assess and consider the options and moved forward with the best possible plan?
A: Hindsight is 20/20 and five years from now we may look back and question some of our decisions, but at this point in time I can say, yes, we have made every effort to select the best plan of action to keep our school safe and up-to-date. We have worked to involve people at all levels and have put together a solid plan that will provide the facilities needed for today and tomorrow.