“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” — Theodore Roosevelt

In real time, when a pandemic has both our country and our community embraced in worry, it is difficult to know if any of us are doing the best thing, as well as the right thing, when decisions are made. Individuals, businesses, public officials, and families are all facing these moments of decisions. But one thing we all know with certainty is we cannot stand by and do nothing.

In November 2019, the Roseburg School Board of Directors, after much studying, consulting, deliberating, and planning, made a decision to place a General Obligation Bond on the May 2020 ballot for much-needed remodels, repairs, and renovations to our district’s aging infrastructure. After community input and polling, the responses to a bond measure were extremely positive, and the board made what we thought was the best decision, as well as the right decision for our community.

The economic advantages for keeping the bond on the ballot became apparent in our discussions with financial experts.

The new bond will have a minimal increase in current property taxes, will protect decades of our investments, and will focus on the safety, health, and strength of our kids, our schools, and our neighborhoods. Subsequently, the board decided the taxes will not be levied until November 2021, granting months of relief to patrons.

The publication of information for our patrons in the district was just about to launch when COVID-19 reared its ugly head, and more pressing decisions had to be made to protect our citizens, young and old. Events and schools were canceled, and plans were made to protect everyone from not only the health considerations on the immediate horizon, but from the economic fallout that will impact everyone in our community, state and nation.

The school board then had an even tougher decision to make, and we began to ask two basic questions. Should we keep the bond on the ballot? And should we restructure the bond to reduce immediate tax liability in order to grant relief to taxpayers?

The economic advantages for keeping the bond on the ballot became apparent in our discussions with financial experts.

First, if the bond passes, the availability of jobs in the area will increase greatly as construction begins — much needed jobs that will spur more economic activity.

Second, we will most likely see a decrease in construction costs if we pass the bond now. Considering that building costs have an estimated 8% per year increase, reducing those costs by even 2-3% will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the bond.

And again, the board made the decision to not levy the taxes until November 2021, granting 18 months of respite to taxpayers, yet beginning the necessary repairs.

Equally important reasons for keeping this bond on the ballot have much to do with the current crisis we find ourselves in.

First, we have a lack of community shelters equipped with emergency resources. This bond, with the proposed construction of five gymnasiums in five neighborhood schools, will improve our community response to any crisis, establishing shelters from which our community, our schools, and our neighborhoods will be the beneficiaries.

Second, our district does not have the technological infrastructure to provide the online teaching and resources we need when students are out of school for long periods such as we are now facing.

The bond allows the district to begin building the technological infrastructure that will provide modern technological services to students, and more importantly, the technology upgrades are also required to keep our students secure with new vestibule entryways, camera systems, and new locking systems for all doors.

The school bond is a proactive measure assuring our community will be safer, healthier, and stronger.

We are facing a unique set of circumstances at present, a set of circumstances that seem beyond our control. We believe that is not the case with this bond. We have sound economic reasons for the bond. We have sound safety reasons for the bond. We have sound reasons for strengthening our responses to emergencies, now and in the future.

Yes, Theodore Roosevelt is correct. In this moment of decision … the worst thing we can do is nothing.

Please vote “Yes” for Roseburg’s schools on May 19.

Micki Hall, Member of the Roseburg Public Schools Board of Directors & Vote YES for Roseburg Schools PAC

This Guest Column appeared April 28, 2020 on nrtoday.com and can be view here.