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Buy quality and only cry once

Are you familiar with the expression, “If you buy quality, you only cry once—Buy cheap and cry forever?”

The County has just spent $3 million to patch Eureka school. I see in today’s agenda package a School Board request to spend another $3 million to patch Bacon District and Phenix Elementary Schools. This is $6 million in patches with relatively short life-spans. These are examples of poor planning and buying cheap.

The County has the money and the borrowing capacity to invest in modern, new elementary schools. Schools which will provide our youngest citizens a first class learning environment. Schools which all our county citizens can be proud of for many years to come. Schools which will be an asset to economic development in the county as businesses and taxpayers with young children look at the school system when making a decision where to locate and live.

I know there is much discussion on whether to consolidate the Elementary schools and if so how to consolidate. I am an accountant, not an educator, so I am not qualified to speak to that question.

But I do have a basic understanding of finances. It makes no economic sense to patch on two old schools with relatively small enrollment and high operating costs when the same (or less) overall annual cost of a brand-new facility could be built. A modern building to provide our youngest students a quality learning environment for many years to come.

Before patching on Bacon District and Phenix Elementary, please “run the numbers.” Compare total annual costs (including operating, maintenance and repairs) between patching and doing it right. Both the county and schools have excellent Directors of Finance who can do the calculations. Interest rates are still cheap. The $3 million patches will have a short life span while a new facility will last many years and be something we can all be proud of.

Do not buy cheap and cry later. Do what is best for the kids and best for the county finances long term. Invest in new elementary schools. Buy quality and only cry once.

Terry Ramsey is a resident of Charlotte Court House and can be contacted at Terrill.Ramsey@outlook.com.