Here is why the Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington town lease proposal for the three elementary schools is the prudent and reasonable thing to do.

�We have had 20 years of a delayed maintenance program that has left our schools in poor condition.

�The town proposal is for annual payments by the region to a "Capital Repairs Fund" in each town dedicated for the region to use on elementary school repairs.

This will ensure that the money will be available for ongoing repairs when they are needed.

�The repair fund payments -- Bridgewater ($38,000), Roxbury ($48,000) and Washington ($69,000) -- are based on the number of students in the schools and as such would be funded by the towns as part of the total region operating budget.

�The proposal states the region maintains the schools, as is the current practice. The region also performs all the day-to-day maintenance as it does now.

The towns do no maintenance.

�The region will have a town fund to draw on when there are capital repair items that need to be paid for, such as roofs, boilers, air conditioning units and mechanical things.

Each town fund will be used exclusively for that town's schools. That fund will be added to each year by depositing the payments into the fund and allowing the money to accumulate until it is needed. A committee with region and town representatives will decide what has to be done and when.

The Board of Education will vote on the recommendations of the committee (the region has full control).

The key concept is each town will have a fund for its school and only the region can spend money from that fund. Each fund will be dedicated to a specific town school.

This plan will not solve all problems, but it makes sure that money is there to fix a roof or a septic system or a well or the heating system when it needs to be done.

There should be no waiting for five years to fix a roof when the next 20-year renovation cycle comes around. No more deferring maintenance that costs more.

Roof leaks cause collateral damage. Things should get fixed on a timely basis. This should also reduce the frequency of asking for bonding to do these things and paying the bond interest on top of the repair costs.

�The total annual fund payments proposed for elementary schools is $155,000 each year. This is less than eight-tenths of 1 percent of the budget.

How can anyone oppose allocating less than eight-tenths of 1 percent to keep the elementary schools in good repair?

The December 2007 referendum proposes a $1.55 million bond to maintain equipment and replace the track on the Shepaug campus.

On average this will cost $250,000 in bond servicing for the next seven years.

This fixed-cost represents 1.25 percent of the current budget and must be paid each year.

Ed Wainwright

Mardie Ford

Region 12 Board of

Education members