Go slow on new Westside

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The cost of the proposed $27 million Hardy Elementary School has been steadily rising, and now the cost of steel puts it at $36 million. These unconscionable and astronomical cost increases suggest we reconsider building the second elementary school (the replacement for Westside) to late in the decade.

New IW school capacity with new Hardy (885) and without old Hardy (576) and old Westside (768) will be 5,740 (see Cooperative Strategies). Weldon Cooper projections indicate a 5,780 enrollment in 2030, almost equal to the 5,740 capacity. We should consider expanding the new expandable Hardy to 1,000 and not follow the new Hardy with a new $40 million-$50 million Westside School.

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At this point the public will become angry with the School Board and the Board of Supervisors for not using empty classrooms and at the same time their uncontrolled construction spending at the expense of the middle class and especially seniors, totally disregarded.

AARP reported a few years ago that 60% of seniors at retirement age have less than $25,000 in cash assets, and IW seniors will be more than 25% of IW’s population by 2030. Residential and agricultural property will pay 85% of these new school costs, or $4,700 per average household. Most seniors cannot afford to pay anything, let alone $4,700, toward these schools.

Seniors are living 10 years longer. They are going to run out of money. The collapse of the Medicare reserve fund is looming five years down the road. Higher premiums. Seniors can expect to lose half their retirement income through the death of their spouse.

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are always eaten up by Medicare Part B adjustments, so there is a steady loss of monthly purchasing power to say nothing of present unprecedented inflation. On the present course, 60% of IW seniors are moving toward poverty and unhappiness thanks, in part, to Taj Mahal school planning.


Thomas Finderson