Today, I am writing in response to the guest commentary printed in the Sept. 29-30 Transcript, "In defense of Conte," by City Councilor Keith Bona, also a member of the School Building Committee. Could he have an agenda also?
Many people have asked me why I’m bringing this up. I think its important for us the citizens to understand that it’s not about the school or rebuilding it, but it should be about the kids and a better education for the future. But it’s not -- only money, power and votes. Lets look at what the good councilor has said.
1. The wall is owned by the city and will need to be corrected if Conte is renovated or not. Yes, councilor, this school has been closed for four years and just now, after three years of studies and over $800,000 spent, you’re just coming out with this.
Remember, the wall, I believe, is in the old "Colegrove Cemetery," given to the city as a park by the First Baptist Church in 1900 by an act of the General Court of Massachusetts, with the requirement that all bodies be removed at the city’s expense. But to date, maybe two bodies haven’t been found. What could that do to the plan? And does the city have a valid deed to the property? All good questions, councilor.
2. Councilor Bona said the fuel tank has been in the ground since the 1970s. Could this have a leak? Has the ground been checked? This could be an Environmental Protection Agency nightmare if it has a problem. Sure hope not.
Does the city of North Adams have a valid deed from the Drury family giving them the land and building? Can’t find one on record, or is the city going to have to go to probate court and try to take the land? All good questions, councilor, that you should know before now.
The good councilor is only telling us the citizens what we want to hear and not the rest of the story. The school kids are failing -- down in math, English and science. Just read the new MCAS scores as of Sept. 12. Dropout rate in North Adams is 6.2 percent; in the state, it’s 2.7 percent. We are at the bottom 20 percent in the state, with a rate of 296 out of 301. Not good. Smaller classes and higher paid teachers, and still the kids are not doing good. Just check the facts for the last three years.
In closing, my final spin is the mayor is going to come before the council soon, very soon, within the next two weeks, with a school budget of $30.4 million plus and tell all he has to have it before Nov. 1. Just trust me, it’s good. No time to debate. It’s always at the last minute. People, wake up. It’s the shell game. It’s all about votes for the next election and stacking the deck.
Thomas Paine said, "Government, even at its best state, is but a necessary evil, in its worst state, an intolerable one," You, the readers, be the judge.
Just my two cents.