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Editorial: Vote against field has big cost, little gain

There are a lot of sighs in the grocery store these days.

Folks everywhere are examining with renewed interest what their money gets them, and exactly how to best spend what they have. Some are probably asking themselves these questions after not having to worry about them for a good while.

In the Bethlehem Central School District, there has been a lot of such pondering lately. The school board has been mulling a facilities repair and upgrade bond. It looks like it’s narrowed in on a decision, as Marcy Velte reports this week, and it has even broken off a portion of the plan for a new turf field into its own resolution.

It doesn’t take a great mind to conclude this is perhaps not the best time to go to taxpayers asking for millions of dollars. But there haven’t been very many golden opportunities as of late, either. And if the school board’s decision to split this bond vote is any indicator, that’s the sense at the school district, too. It’s a strategic move — protect what the district really needs while asking for what is widely perceived as a want. In a district whose voters are normally quite supportive (they OK’d exceeding the tax cap last year), there is apparently worry this field issue will flop.

Sports Editor Rob Jonas makes some compelling arguments for a turf field in his column on the back page of this week’s edition. It would be simple to use this space to offer counterpoints, to say in today’s day and age anything beyond a school’s core mission of education must be put by the wayside. It would be simple to advocate on behalf of enraged taxpayers who have seen their bill go up by far too much, far too often in recent years. It would be simple to point out the district is asking for this bond in a year when for many of its residents, town taxes are going up by 8 percent and county taxes by nearly as much. That’s on top of more social security withholding, high prices at the pump and dizzying numbers in the aisles of the aforementioned grocery store.

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