To the Editor:
At a time of decreasing enrollments and increasing costs in South County’s school districts, it is irrational to devote taxpayer money to keeping open costly and ineffective one-room schoolhouses. The one in South Egremont is no exception, and describing it as an important historical landmark doesn’t change that conclusion.
That the South Egremont school will eventually close is as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow. Taxpayers can’t afford, and shouldn’t be asked to pay, the annual operating cost of $175,000 to serve 20 or so students, most of whom don’t even live in the school district.
The building, whether it is a school or something else, is tiny, ugly and in need of extensive repairs. The latest estimate for stabilizing the foundation and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act has climbed to $431,000, and that doesn’t include all the necessary work. The building’s supporters have masked those costs by consistently underestimating them and pleading for “just a little bit more” from taxpayers.
It’s time to stop the bleeding. While $346,500 in grants and taxpayer money has been allocated for the project, less than $25,000 has actually been spent. Let’s not throw good money after bad. Nostalgia shouldn’t drive government decisions.