EDITOR:Twelve years ago, my husband Dan and I moved from downstate to Iron Mountain, Dan's hometown. I was nervous about moving to such a small town, but it turned out to be the best decision we could have made for our kids.
I was overwhelmed by how warmly we were welcomed into the community and I was amazed at the quality of the schools. Kids here were getting a world-class education and earning millions of dollars in college scholarships.
Recently, I heard about the upcoming ballot proposal to fund the schools. Similar to when I made the decision to move to Iron Mountain, I was wary at first and learned as much as I could. I was worried about the middle school kids getting thrown in with the high school students.
Times are tough and I wanted to know that the school board and administrators were doing everything they could to use the money carefully, keeping in mind how hard homeowners work for every dollar.
What I found was a smart and well-thought-out plan for bringing Iron Mountain schools into the 21st century. With declining enrollment, using space effectively to save money is the responsible thing to do. A lot of thoughtful planning is going into making a school-within-a-school for the seventh- and eighth-graders, with separate bathrooms, classrooms and common areas.
Eighty-six percent of Upper Peninsula high schools already combine grades seven through 12 in a single building (Kingsford is the closest example), so local planners have a clear blueprint of how to do it right. As a very involved and concerned parent, I wouldn't stand for any less.
The bond will bring about a lot of changes that will save money in the long run-changes like a more reliable and energy-efficient boiler. Plus, the schools will finally be able to get rid of the old chalkboards and get the technology systems that will give our kids a competitive edge. Iron Mountain is a small town with small-town values. That doesn't mean we can't give our kids big-city opportunity.
This bond proposal is long overdue. In the entire time I've lived here, I've never had to vote on a bond issue. I was surprised to learn that even if the bond passes, the millage rates will still be lower than they were 20 years ago.
Iron Mountain's tradition of putting education first is reflected in our local industries and the quality of our workforce. Now, I'm excited for my chance to be part of that tradition and ensure a bright future for our city by giving our kids the best start possible. I'll be proud to vote yes on the Aug. 7 school bond proposal.