The youngest students in Sevastopol School are taught in its oldest classrooms, built in 1924, the heyday of silent films, Model T Fords and bootleg booze.
Age alone doesn’t disqualify a building as a place of learning, but Sevastopol, a National Blue Ribbon School, has coped since the 1920s through prudent spending and innovative use of its patchwork facilities. The district’s administrators, teachers and support staff deserve credit and respect for achieving educational excellence in the face of hardships decades in the making.
Could Sevastopol plod along without an operating referendum or a referendum to replace the 1924 and 1946 sections of school building? Combined, the referendums on the Nov. 6 ballot amount to $27 million, a lot of money even considering the district decided against seeking funds for a brand-new campus. So, yes, we could escape a tax hike and Sevastopol will still open its door every school day.
Education can be done on the cheap, but if done so, Sevastopol’s hard-earned academic standing will diminish as teachers go to better schools and student achievement scores drop. My wife and I will vote “yes” and gladly pay higher taxes because we know from first-hand experience that our modest investment is worth it.
Six of our seven grandchildren attend Sevastopol schools – elementary, middle and high school. Our four children completed their educations in Florida, but when it came time to send their own children to school, three of the four relocated to Door County – largely for quality of life, including good schools.
We have visited Sevastopol often – for plays, musical performances and class projects. But it took a behind-the-scenes tour last year to realize how much Sevastopol is able to accomplish with cramped spaces, outdated technology and unsafe, unhealthy facilities.
The art teacher deals with water leaks from a locker room above that drip into her classroom; another teacher suffered a severe electrical shock from a panel of wall switches. Special needs students are tucked here and there, some in closet-sized rooms. The laptop you own is newer and more powerful than many computers used daily in classrooms.
For those unfamiliar with the school you’re being asked to support with your tax dollars, trust us when we say no other institution within the district is more ingrained in its community and no other institution does as much to serve its community.
With educational funding from the state deeply cut, it now falls to local communities to chip in, in some cases, at considerable individual sacrifice. Please don’t punish our schools for that plight; elect advocates for higher state spending on education. Until then, if you agree it’s time to step up for Sevastopol schools, vote “yes” Nov. 6. If you’re not convinced, please visit the school and check out conditions for yourself, including all that’s happening in the classroom. You, too, might decide that an investment in the community’s beloved school district is worth skipping a few meals out.
Michael and Penny Killenberg