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In the midst of all the work on the current year's budget, I am concerned that the board of education is losing sight of the urgent issues that need to be dealt with in planning for the bond construction. I have heard the repeated assurances from the board that we are "on time and under budget." I don't have any information to contradict this, but then I don't have much information at all on the current status. I do know that the board president has stated, in an open meeting, that the Salem project will probably go over budget by $1 million, even though its official status is currently "under budget." This is not reassuring and, in my experience, should serve as a warning that we need to carefully monitor the status of all the projects.

As I write this, the agenda for the April 9 meeting has still not been posted on the board's website, so I do not know if the bond will be discussed then. I do know that there is no record of any board committee meetings to discuss and monitor progress, and in the past few weeks there has been little discussion of the bond status at regular board because they have been consumed by the budget. This in itself is disturbing. I am sure there is activity behind the scenes to move the projects, and I'm not just talking about money. We deserve to be kept abreast of development. I don't think it is unreasonable for the community to expect current reports, giving us the current status of construction planning, outlining potential problem areas, identifying potential overruns and potential savings, etc. If everything is going well, why not share this news with the community? And, if there are problems, why not let us know about them up front and allow the community to be part of the decision making process for what could potentially be some very painful decisions? The alternative is to yet again present the community with a Hobson's choice of passively accepting decisions which we had no part in making and may find unacceptable or forcing the board to go back and revisit these issues, thereby further adding to the cost and delays.

Mark Marcellus


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