Last week when I was on my way back from a game of pickup ball at Declo High School, I noticed the stark contrast between the fancy new school versus the Junior High and Elementary School buildings beside it. They appeared to come from entirely different worlds. The old schools had been pieced together, one building at a time (each probably a decade apart), as the student body and needs grew. There were four unique sections to the old high school that also served the junior high.

Old Declo High School Main Entrance

Old Declo High School Gymn and View of Building

It was striking to see the uncoordinated sections of the buildings next to that modern high school. Strangely, during a time when I think a lot about living within ones means, the old schools, which represented self-control and restraint in spending, had a disciplined beauty to them, while the new school carried the baggage of America’s current pain and burden of high debt.

New Declo High School Building Funded by Multi-million Dollar Municipal Bond

I remember when I was a teenager the months of debate over the multi-million dollar school bonds to rebuild the area’s schools that were way out of date. As I had participated in alternative schools (home school and AHA) in my later years rather than public schools, I argued against the debts (and taxes) that would be placed on all of our properties, regardless of whether we use the state-of-the-art, expensive new buildings.

This morning I read an article about municipalities and cities going bankrupt due to too much debt. Others are borrowing against the future to keep up with payments, trying to avoid bankruptcy. It seems that American credit card habits spilled over into municipal governance and now it’s time to pay the price. I wonder how well my community is bearing the weight of the school bonds. Feeling the weight today, would we have chosen to take on the debt 15 years ago? Or would we have chosen a more conservative approach like that of past generations’ school expansion?

I have asked students how the schools are doing and apparently there has been enough growth in the community to easily fill the new schools. I hope that this growth is offsetting any losses in tax revenues due to unemployment rates for our community.

I know I have some regrets about the way I handled debts in my own businesses. What’s done is done. Hopefully we’ll all learn to be more wise the next time around.


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