Lake County School Superintendent Wendy Wyman journeyed Saturday morning, Sept. 22, to the Twin Lakes Dance Hall to provide information about the 2012 bond election to voters in southern Lake County who were attending the monthly open meeting of the Friends of Twin Lakes.
Bruce Hix, a candidate for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, introduced the presentation, saying that initiative 3A was fundamental to economic development because businesses and families are attracted to, and will remain in, areas with good schools.
In addition to explaining the funding for the bond, 57 percent of which is paid for by the state, Wyman emphasized that the purpose of the bond is to provide a learning environment where Lake County students are made career-ready following an educational experience that allows them to engage in high-level learning. Among other improvements, this requires refurbishing the Lake County High School, which was built in the early 1960s, so that the school will be able to have up-to-date math and science labs, as well as an electrical system that will support both current and increased computer training and usage demands. It also involves adding new rooms to address safety and health issues surrounding overcrowding.
Wyman, along with former Superintendent Betty Kokenes, answered questions about funding for the estimated expenses to make the improvements. Wyman underscored that in the process of winning this highly competitive grant, the state recognizes that Lake County’s schools have a very fragile and aging infrastructure. She also explained the fleeting nature of the funding that is being offered by the state because the grant money is coming from interest on land-trust dollars that are not anticipated to be available for these grants in the future.
State Rep. Millie Hamner, a former Summit County school superintendent who was also in attendance, gave the legislative perspective on BEST Grant funding. This grant recognizes that the property assessment valuations in counties like Lake put our county at a disadvantage; however, the intent of BEST grant-funding is to allow counties such as Lake to use the grant funds in order to have the same quality of infrastructure and education as that offered in Summit and Eagle counties. Hamner confirmed that there is serious talk about not allocating the Land Trust interest funds this way in the future.
By the end of the discussion period, those in attendance indicated that they had a good understanding of the issue and the potential positive results to local schools if the bond issue is passed in November, as well as cost implications for property owners. The attendees also acknowledged the generosity of Safeway for providing donuts and coffee.