To The Herald-Whig:
When I first came to Quincy in 1974, there was a school referendum on the ballot, and after careful consideration, my wife and both voted in favor of it. A majority of the citizens decided against the referendum, however, and it was ultimately defeated. Since that time, there have been other school referendums on the ballot, and each and every time, they have also failed.
Here we are, 40 years later, and once again we are being asked to go to the polls and vote to improve our school system by building and equipping five elementary schools, adding to our senior high school, repairing existing school buildings and providing necessary technology improvements. It's been a long time since a new school was built here in our district. The time has come when we really have to ask ourselves: What sort of buildings do we want our children to attend while trying to get an education?
As a former mayor, I know what it means to continually make necessary improvements to the infrastructure of our city. I also know what it means to provide the kind of education our children deserve in buildings that are modern and up to date. As a former president of the West Central Independence Network, I have always been concerned about providing special needs for those in our area who are handicapped, and particularly our youngsters. We need to provide schools that have elevators that are accessible to everyone and to have convenient rest rooms.
In this day and age with shootings happening in schools across our nation, the security of our children while attending school has become a serious problem. This decision also involves additional funds that could be obtained through passage of a referendum instead of an increase in property taxes. It should be noted here that passing this referendum will not increase our tax rate and will actually save the school district more than $11 million over 20 years.
In my opinion, this is a win-win situation. The time has finally come when we must decide to do what is right for our city, our school system, and the children who depend on us to provide them with the kind of education they need and deserve. I urge everyone to vote "yes" on Nov. 4.
V.W. "Verne" Hagstrom
Quincy Mayor (1985-93)