The Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce board of directors approved March 6, a resolution in support of “Proposition Farmington Schools” bond issue on the ballot before voters in the April 8 election.
Following review of the bond language, proposed projects and discussion about the impact of education on the business community and workforce, the board agreed that the time is now to address critical safety and security needs, critical maintenance and facility improvements, and technology enhancements.
“Education is one of the most impactful elements of a strong workforce, and when time-sensitive improvements need to be made to ensure students have an environment with basic learning necessities, it’s important that we step up with support,” said Doug McDermott, president/CEO of the Farmington Regional Chamber.
McDermott said that the board takes its role as an advocate on behalf of its members for business and economic development very seriously and that significant review of the bond proposal led to the decision.
“Our emerging issues council and government affairs advisory committee met with school leadership to discuss the challenges faced by the district, and were confident that the solutions presented through bond financing are the best way to address those challenges at this particular point in time,” McDermott said.
McDermott said that both representative groups were pleased that district leadership is taking a proactive step to address its challenges in a comprehensive manor that engages the whole of the community, specifically regarding outreach through a variety of community forums, and recommended the board support the ballot proposal.
“We encourage the district to continue sharing outcomes of the master facility planning process and benchmarks of success after passage of the bond issue,” McDermott said. “The confidence of the community and taxpayers will continue to strengthen as they hear about progress toward completion of projects listed in the bond ballot language.”
McDermott said that there has been little debate about the importance of the proposed projects, but that questions do occasionally arise because public school financing structure and regulation is so different from that of the private sector.
“There is no question that technology and tech-related instruction must be upgraded within our schools, but when you start talking to a business person about purchasing tech equipment with a relatively short lifespan through longer-term financing dollars, there is sometimes concern,” McDermott said.
McDermott said that the district understood this general concern and was quick to clarify that as purchases are made using the bond funds, they’ll work with bond counsel to set financing terms that are shorter for more quickly depreciating assets and longer for construction-based projects whose lifespan is significantly longer.
McDermott said that over the coming weeks before the election, the Farmington Regional Chamber will be communicating information to its nearly 600 member representatives about the specifics of the proposed projects, both district-wide and building specific, so that members can make informed decisions at the election polls on April 8.
“Obviously we encourage our members to vote ‘yes,’ to strengthen our public schools which is a contributor to our mission of growing a stronger regional economy, but we want them to be informed and confident in their decision,” McDermott said.