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As a mother of two children starting school this week, I can’t help but reflect on the importance of maintaining the excellence of our schools. My husband David and I chose to move here 12 years ago, his hometown, because we both recognized that Madison is an amazing place. We enjoy a high quality of life due to the town’s many assets: the Surf Club, Bauer Park, and a great library, among others. But we are most grateful that we can put our kids on the bus each day knowing they are building a strong educational foundation to succeed in life.
However, we have also been dismayed with the state of the facilities. There seems to be a disconnect between our reputation as a premier, bedroom community and the quality of the buildings we send our children to daily. Antiquated HVAC systems, worn-out roofs, and outdated classrooms are among a long list of problems. Decades of deferred maintenance coupled with declining enrollment have built up a mountain of skyrocketing costs, creating economic inefficiencies and forcing us to make difficult choices. Let’s be honest, the old way of doing things no longer works. A potential decline in the reputation of our schools will drive people to neighboring towns and impact everyone’s property values.
I am encouraged by the recent tri-board committee effort to develop a plan for our school buildings, but this cannot be done in isolation. We must create a more strategic, integrated vision for all our community assets and support it with a detailed action plan. We can sustain the Madison we love while embracing the future, but that requires bringing together different constituencies in town to tackle our challenges in a cost-effective way—and a town government that is capable and willing to do so.
Peggy Lyons is the Democratic candidate for first selectman.
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