Let’s put the $64 million school bond issue in context.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into developing Portland and improving facilities like our waterfront, airport and even our first-class hospital. When you look around at the building boom, $64 million is a small price to pay for fixing up four elementary schools and taking the first step toward making the full investment in public education that we need.

As president of the Building Trades Council and a Portland native, I hear from my members who live in Portland how important it is to repair these schools.

There are additional community benefits that will come from decisions about how to build our public schools.

The schools we have were built in their day by the skilled construction workers of Portland – the workers were residents, homeowners, and parents and families of the students and teachers who filled our Portland schools every day of the school year. We built our schools together as a community that believed in the value of public education.

That’s how I’d like to see these schools made into state-of-the-art, 21st-century model schools.

Local skilled workers, whose children attend our neighborhood schools, should be hired to get this job done on time and on budget. We will take pride in building our city, just as we did before. And think of the community benefit – good wages, benefits and the chance to build the city we love.

Let’s build together – that’s the slogan of the Maine Building Trades. And that’s what our city really needs right now – a common purpose with all of us pulling together for the benefit of our children and the future of our city.

John Napolitano

president, Maine Building Trades Council

Portland