After 23 years of delays and inaction, Councilor Jill Duson is calling for what a headline writer described as a “go-slow approach” to repairing our crumbling elementary schools (Commentary, March 16).

Go slow? The city’s had seven official task forces on elementary school facilities since 1995 and hired architectural firms six different times. How much slower could they possibly go?

This time, an ad hoc committee made up of City Council and school board members was created to review the opportunities for state funding and the school funding needs, and they agreed on a consensus plan that passed the ad hoc committee 7-1, the school board unanimously, and the City Council Finance Committee.

The ad hoc committee’s consensus plan makes sure all our kids attend schools that meet minimum standards for learning, health and safety and prioritizes applying for state money for our high schools, which the experts hired by the city say are our best candidates for state help. This plan is supported by six out of nine members of the council – just one shy of what’s needed to advance the bond to the voters.

But now, Duson is proposing to remove Reiche and Longfellow schools from the bond. She calls it a “2+2” plan. But really it should be “2 + an IOU,” because if we cut these schools out now, we have no idea when we’ll have a chance to do it again.

And because her plan doesn’t adequately address our schools’ needs, it simply doesn’t have the votes to pass on the council. Even the Lyseth and Presumpscot PTOs oppose her Lyseth/Presumpscot-only bond.

That’s why, after her proposal is defeated, we urge her, as well as Councilors Nicholas Mavodones and Belinda Ray, not to once again let an effort to solve this problem end in failure. It’s time to let the voters vote.

Emily Figdor

Protect Our Neighborhood Schools

Portland