Letter to the Editor

One school, one site

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dear Editor,

Lack of long-term, sustainable options, is why I have to vote against the CURRENT BOND. I will vote YES on a bond that considers long-term solutions and is fiscally responsible: ONE SITE.

In today's "whatever" society, passion is often lacking. What I appreciate about the people of Trenton and Culbertson: passion for education! Love it! Around here, we care about students, community; doing what's right.

I've worked with Hitchcock County Schools over the past 11 years and will attest that these students are the best around! They're a family, they've been through a lot this past year; their love for each other and school is exemplary.

These things are crucial to when deciding which way to vote, but the most important issue, in my opinion, is what makes the most long-term financial sense for the district and the students. What can we maintain and afford in the next 20-30 years? In our world of financial instability and budget cuts, I cannot understand why we go against the trend of business, industry, government and agriculture and vote for a bond that allocates funds for two facilities, without careful consideration of a solution for one. It is clear the school board wants to keep both communities happy, united, but it is their job to do what's right for the taxpayers and school district now and for decades to come.

Voters from the November election voted down a bond that supported spending at two sites.

Despite lowering the overall cost, the current bond still recommends spending at two locations. At the board meeting in March, a one-site option was presented, expected cost being $8.7 million; current bond= $7.4 million. I will never be convinced that the difference of $1.3 million could not be made up easily over a five-year period by investing and maintaining one facility.

Obviously, improvements are inevitable, but we have a chance to come together for a solution that is best for students now and years into the future. I'd love to see our population continue to rise, but even then, it seems financially irresponsible to maintain two sites to serve such a small population. We have to look at what works: Tri-County, Norris, Southeast NE Consolidated, and Southern Valley Schools, have all seen successful consolidations. Districts that have two to 10 times as many students as Hitchcock County have made the sustainable, long-term choice, to bring students together in one location to better serve them and the tax payers.

By definition: CONSOLIDATING- (Verb): 1. Make physically stronger/more solid. 2. Reinforce/strengthen (Merriam-Webster -- Dictionary 2011)

Consolidation has been proven to reduce overhead costs, increase feelings of unity, and improve customer/student service. We need to hold out for a bond that makes these a priority.

Voting NO doesn't mean I do not support Hitchcock County Schools, voting NO means I feel we need to explore a more long-term option.

I would campaign whole-heartedly to present a bond to voters that's financially responsible for years to come and supports investments into one location.

Voting NO simply means I WANT A BETTER OPTION.

Kelly Rippen,

Culbertson, Nebraska

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  • Mrs. Rippen chooses to option her children out of the Hitchcock County School District. I would argue that this choice means she doesn't support the Hitchcock County School system.

    -- Posted by Parent of a HC Student on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 1:45 PM
  • Voters in November voted down an issue supposedly because of cost, remember the group who opposed that one? Too much money, lets be honest here, it is the fact your kids don't go to school at Hitchcock County and they never will. You don't want anything to pass for our kids benefit.

    As far as consolidation goes, we are consolidated, our kids are together, they are together in two different towns. Where are your kids? Oh yes, McCook, now I remember where they go to school.

    -- Posted by Fan of Falcons on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 2:20 PM
  • The $8.7 million dollar option is actually a two site option. While the classroom space would be in Culbertson, the gym addition would be used in Trenton. This would mean maintenance, electrical, water, plus, heating and cooling costs at the site. There would be no savings with this option because of the square footage of classroom space at the site in Culbertson and the use of the gym in Trenton.

    Realistically, the one site option would cost $11.5 million, meaning that everything needed for a K-12 school would be located in one town.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 3:19 PM
  • I completely agree with Mrs. Rippen's opinion. One site is what is best for the kids and the community of Culbertson.

    I am perplexed and as to why the people of Culbertson would not fully support having one site in Culbertson?? Why would anyone in a community be in favor of taking something away from their backdoor and move it 12 miles down the road??

    I also am confused on the mission statement of the "Citizens for Hitchcock Schools". Your mission is stated as, " to KEEP A SCHOOL IN HITCHCOCK COUNTY". If that is truly your mission, then either option would accomplish that goal. I commend any CHS graduate willing to stand up for Culbertson High School and elementary school as we knew it.

    -- Posted by CHS grad on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 8:20 PM
  • I'm sorry, you have misunderstood my comment. I mentioned nothing of "making" one town better than the other.

    Also, it is reassuring to know that the kids and teachers will not mind where the school is and that they will be able to walk in thinking, GO BEARS!

    I completely agree it is important to look ahead and that is why it is so important that the people get out and vote so the future is in the right place.

    -- Posted by CHS grad on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 9:05 PM
  • That is part of the problem with people who are against the bond. They think in the mindset of Culbertson versus Trenton. Just because you graduated from "Culbertson High School" doesn't mean that there should be just one school in Culbertson. That isn't fair to the residents and CHILDREN that go to our schools that live in Trenton.

    The schools are falling apart and need real renovations! These renovations don't fix the long-term issues, they just put a bandage on the current situation. If you are wanting long-term, then you need to add-on and renovate. The class sizes are growing, this year alone the K-2 grade classes were split. There are currently 18 preschoolers, with a projected 22 coming to kindergarten next year.

    Don't think about how much it's going to cost you, or consolidating to one location. You NEED to think about the kids. They don't care who is from where and what happened in the past, they are friends with each other and will continue to be so. It's not a matter of two separate schools, it's about one county and one school district!

    -- Posted by teacher2011 on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 9:11 PM
  • Remember what your mission is, "To keep a school in Hitchcock County", period.

    -- Posted by CHS grad on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 9:28 PM
  • It isn't about Culbertson vs. Trenton anymore. Not for the people who are part of Hitchcock County Schools. We've created a positive and supportive school out of something that started as a total disaster. How do I know? Because I've been there from the beginning. Through the ups and downs. The wins and the losses. And the smiles and tears. And through it all the students of HCHS have continued to amaze me.

    I'm sure it's hard for some people to understand. For those who haven't been involved and who don't know the kids. But don't you see that everyone you talk to that is part of this school doesn't want to see it changed. Every parent, teacher, student and fan is proud to be the Falcons.

    I am a CHS grad too and I'm very proud of that. But I'm not in high school anymore. It isn't about what it used to be like. It's about the reality of the lives of the kids today. And that reality is Hitchcock County Schools.

    This bond is not taking anything away from Culbertson. It's giving the town a beautiful new elementary school. Something the residents can be proud of. Culbertson isn't loosing anything but gaining something that will last for many, many years to come.

    You might be right in saying that one site is what's best for Culbertson. But it's not what's best for Hitchcock County Schools. And since I've left the old rivalry behind I'm thinking about what's best for the school we have now.

    It will be very difficult to pass a bond for one site. The realistic thing to do is pick a bond with a chance of passing. This bond has the best chance.

    And that's what is meant by keeping a school in Hitchcock County. Because without passing a bond and building the new buildings that are needed, eventually the schools will close. It's really that simple. I'm not saying they will close after this school year. I'm not saying they would close in five years. But eventually the tax payers will get tired of throwing money away on 80+ year old buildings. It isn't going to solve the problem long term. And without solving those problems more will be created and the cycle will continue.

    I guess all I can say is, if you truly care about the students and if you truly care about having a school in the county, then think about voting for this bond. It's important to those of us who work and learn at Hitchcock County Schools.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 9:37 PM
  • No one has said anything about Culbertson vs. Trenton, except those of you in favor of the bond.

    It is not hard for me to understand, I have seen it all and been there to support the current setup, but the bottom line is one school and one building makes sense.

    The reality of the kids lives today is they will all still be together whatever town the school may be in.

    If a bond can easily be defeated 2 times, I do not feel it will be difficult to pass a one site bond, should it come to that. Obviously this does not have the best chance, or it would have passed by now. It is not what the people want!

    Anyone who truly cares about the community of Culbertson and the safety and well being of their children, neighbors, and friend will vote NO to the bond.

    -- Posted by dgb2900 on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 10:00 PM
  • Thinking only about what's best for Culbertson is exactly what I mean about Culbertson vs. Trenton.

    Bonds rarely pass on the first try.

    The people told the school board they wanted an option that costs around $7 million.

    Passing a one site bond would mean getting half the district to vote for it. It's hard to see that happening.

    And even if there was one site the students will never walk down the halls thinking Go Bears.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Thu, Apr 21, 2011, at 10:14 PM
  • Please vote FOR the school bond issue. We ARE NOT the Bears and we ARE NOT the Warriors!!! WE ARE THE FALCONS!!!!!

    Our school has two sites in two communities that are surviving great as they are. In response to the letter in the paper - the 8.7 million does not include a gym (already priced at 2 million as the school board has the estimation for), a football field, lighting, track, some where to sit, and concession stands. Above is posted 11.5 million and I think it will be closer to 12, regardless that is a LOT more than the 7.4 that this bond is for.

    Why are the opposers trying to change something that has and is working?

    Why is also that the ones with the loudest voices don't even send their kids to OUR school?

    For out towns to continue to thrive we need everybody to vote FOR this bond issue and keep a school in both towns.

    -- Posted by jayneej on Fri, Apr 22, 2011, at 11:31 AM
  • I dont think that it matters where Mrs Rippen sends her children to school. She owns land in Hitchcock County and is also a registered voter in said county. The fact is that she works in McCook and has enrolled her children there does not mean that she has no voice and shouldnt be heard. I know of other mothers that work and send their kids to McCook. Why ??? Could it be because there is no daycare for their children to attend after school? She is not saying that McCook is better than Hitchcock County. I know for a fact that she works closely with our kids to make sure that they get a quality education AFTER high school and will help in anyway possible while they are in school.

    We need to look at the long term, the goverment is a mess and frankly we cant rely on the state aid that we recieve to be there again next year... how do we support are newer facilities then ? Are you going to donate a load of grain to the school to keep it running ? We are being taxed to death as it is and if you talk to any small to medium sized farmer, they are also concerned about their own livelyhood and survival over the next 20 years. What happens when and if our economy really hits rock bottom, how are we going to pay for any of this?

    We have to respect each voter out there for all of their concerns, because when it is all said and done, our neighbors will still be our neighbors and show up at our doorstep when we are in need. Dont make enemies over this bond and please remember that we all have to make our choices based on what is the best for OUR families and OUR communities. Which is the best decision and the "right" choice ? You can only vote for what is right for you and your family... but please know that the "opposition" is also doing the same.

    -- Posted by sanecomments on Fri, Apr 22, 2011, at 3:01 PM
  • There is an after school daycare program located in the elementary building. It has been around for at least three years, possibly four, I'm not sure.

    You are going to pay school taxes. Doesn't matter if Hitchcock County has a school or not. Why is it better to waste money on old buildings? Or why should we spend 11.5 million for one site? I can't see how that is a better use of our tax dollars. If it is really about the money, this is the best option. The option that the people told the school board they wanted to see.

    If you have concerns, ask someone involved in the project to get the right answers. There are a lot of half-truths and out and out lies being spread around. Let the people make the right choice. They should know what's best for themselves, if they can learn all the facts.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Fri, Apr 22, 2011, at 9:53 PM
  • Seriously, Lesa Tines.....do you have to have the last say every time??? It is simply one individual's opinion! Let them state it without ripping it apart EVERY time. Everyone is entitled to state what they want. We all know where you stand. Can you just concentrate on "campaigning" for your views and let others do the same? Enough!

    -- Posted by dgb2900 on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 7:59 AM
  • I'm just clearing up the problems you brought up.

    You said there isn't a daycare, and there is. If that's an issue, I just wanted to address it.

    This is campaining. Getting the facts out about the issue is part of campaining. A lot of people are reading this.

    I didn't rip anything apart. I just told the truth.

    What's your name?

    -- Posted by tineslk on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 9:06 AM
  • i attended both schools. i was proud to be part of the Blue Ribbon Band but also very proud to play "Hail Varsity" & wear the green & gold of the Warriors. now i proudly wear purple & stand with the cheerleaders & yell, "stand up..be proud..shout your name..out loud.. WE ARE THE FALCONS!!!

    how can anyone say it's not about Trenton vs Culbertson when the comments are dripping with dislike for Trenton & the phrase, "what's best for the community of Culbertson" is used repeatedly?

    Culbertson already proved it was not a viable school system on its own. where would it be without Trenton? wearing red & yelling for the Bison? many did & still do. why no outrage over that?

    if people want to wear the "always remember, never forget" shirts every day for the rest of their lives - go for it. be a loud & proud Culbertson bear, that's great. but, these kids are loud & proud FALCONS! how selfish to try & take that away from them!

    the comment was made, "why would anyone in the community of culbertson be in favor of taking something from their back door & moving it 12 miles down the road?" another said, "vote so the future is in the right place". how did it get to be about placement anyway? it started out being about improving the physical structure of what already exists. as stated above, "culbertson is losing NOTHING & gaining a beautiful new building that will last" & be safer in MANY ways. so, i don't understand what those who are "against" the bond think they are losing. besides, it will never be the "culbertson high school & elementary AS WE KNEW IT anyway. it will be new & different no matter how this ends. lets not go backward. if the past high school experience was so good, why is it impossible to believe it can be good (or even wonderful) as a FALCON? it's not about us "adults" - we had our time. now it's their time. let's not spoil it fighting.

    united WE stand, divided WE fall...all of us.

    -- Posted by kids1st on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 1:17 PM
  • WTG kids1st!!!

    -- Posted by jayneej on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 4:12 PM
  • Funny thing here... Mrs. Rippen supports one school at one site but never said where that site should be. You just all ASSUME that she means Trenton. I also support her opinion AND live in Culbertson. I support the one site idea, but also know that the best site for the school would be Trenton!! If you choose to vote for this bond, then you are agreeing that it is the best that we can do. If you vote against said bond, then you are only saying that you feel there is another option or that you do not like this option and that WE [Falcon Nation] can do better. This bond affects a lot of lives and you can only vote your opinions. There are alot of FACTS on both sides that you should listen to and vote smart. JUST VOTE

    -- Posted by sanecomments on Sun, Apr 24, 2011, at 5:02 AM
  • If you attended a meeting, you know that one site can not be located in Trenton because there isn't the land space.

    I am certain that is not what she means.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Sun, Apr 24, 2011, at 9:31 AM
  • There have been a lot of statements about culbertson vs. trenton, and to those that actually think that, need to grow up! Your vote should be in the best interest for the community and the tax payers. Our students will receive an education regardless of site and location! The bond that is currently presented is NOT the best option! Having two seperate sites is NOT anywhere close to plausible in this economy. The state has the right to come in and shut us down anytime, or combine us to one sight! This bond would be a big waste of money for the district and the tax payers for this reason. We have to think about long term if we are going to be a strong district, and having two sites is not the answer!

    -- Posted by honest-opinion on Sun, Apr 24, 2011, at 9:11 PM
  • Its funny how the ones who want one building in Culbertson have not been able to give any facts to back up their claims... they say they have a better plan... What is it? How much will it cost? Well they dont know the cost they just dont want to share anything with Trenton.. They've been rival since they stole the court house..Since they played them in sports....School agaist school..Were better than them mentality...My response is GROW UP...

    I am a fact person and the one school supporters have none...They are trying to deceive the public..

    My family is part of the Falcon Nation...My children and I are happy with 2 schools...I get groceries in Trenton when there are games there....There hasnt been a grocery store in Culbertson for years....Why not keep money and jobs in my county....This is the Fairest Option.....Know the real facts.

    There is a informative meeting at the Church of God in Trenton @4:30pm monday

    -- Posted by hitchcockmom on Sun, Apr 24, 2011, at 11:07 PM
  • Who is putting on this informative meeting ??? One would think that if the school board was having another one, that it would be held at the school ! And as for Mrs. Tines, I sure am glad that you are so certain about so many things. You are CERTAIN on how people are going to vote, certain that our economy is going to be viable enough to pay for this bond, certain that families will stay in our communities to keep enrollment up over the long term to help pay for said bond, etc. etc. I wish that I had your magic 8 ball because I am not certain that I will even wake up tomorrow !!! One thing that I am CERTAIN, is that you have never had a conversation with Mrs. Rippen to even listen to her opinion as to where her one school should be located !!

    -- Posted by sanecomments on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 4:52 AM
  • I've never said I was certain about any of those things, except the one site location. This is the tactic of people who don't have facts or a real plan. They personally attack others that do.

    I've never heard Kelly state where she would like the one site located. I've never seen her at a meeting. But I have seen Shane at meetings. And since the first board meeting in November 2010, I've listened to him state over and over again that he wants one site in Culbertson. I really doubt that Kelly is campaigning for one site in Trenton and Shane for one site in Culbertson. Especially since, like I stated above, the architects told the public that one site can not be located in Trenton.

    I AM certain of something else though. You still haven't told me YOUR name. (I used my real name and initials because I'm not afraid for people to know my views.)

    Oh and the meeting is being put on by a member of the public who wants to give people a chance to ask questions and get real answers. They have invited a school board member and the Superintendent.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 9:47 AM
  • Thank you sanecomments!!

    I think it is in poor taste to have a meeting at a church with "a" school board member (hand picked) and the superintendent.

    And why does it matter anyone's name. So, you chose to put yours out there and other's haven't. It does not matter, but if you are going to put your name out there you better be willing to take the heat for doing so.

    I simply want both schools in Culbertson. That's it. That is just what I think would be best and I don't need to have facts or a plan that is just my opinion!

    -- Posted by dgb2900 on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 10:32 AM
  • It doesn't matter if you say your name. But it seemed to matter that everyone knew mine.

    It's a meeting place. A place that can hold a lot of people. Hope to see you there.

    -- Posted by tineslk on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 10:38 AM

    everyone is entitled to their opinions but at the same time lets let others have theirs. we ALL think we are absolutely right & that the other side is wrong. BUT, as someone said, when this is all over (& thank the Lord, some day it will) we will all still be neighbors. i'd like to be able to have civil conversations & not shouting matches or the cold shoulder. i've seen so much damage done to friendships already. that is SO sad. it seems to be getting out of hand, especially when someone says they don't need facts or a plan. yikes! voting without facts? that is scarey. i can't imagine spending MILLIONS of dollars without facts & a plan.

    i guess i just want one simple CALM answer - when the 1st bond failed there were many meetings held. i heard it stated very clearly that the amount of money was the issue & that a lower price was wanted. now that has been done & there's this HUGE uproar & talk of one site that will cost over 12 million. can someone explain this? i've seen the numbers & do NOT see a savings in one location. heating & running one enormous "house" is not cheaper than running two smaller ones & the benefits are enormous.

    indeed, why would a community vote 2 move something "out of their own back yard"? as they say, "if it ain't broke don't fix it". the system isn't broken, just the buildings.

    -- Posted by kids1st on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 1:00 PM
  • Very true... name calling is not the answer but I have heard the "opposition" called everything from ignorant, trolls and hillbillies. The plain facts are this, if you dont own any land- you dont pay one red cent... if you own the lot(s) that your house sits on- you will pay a small amount.... but if you own acreage of any value- you will be paying!!! How much can we continue to tax our livelyhoods to death. Am i a farmer- no, but also am smart enough to realize that without my farming neighbors, we would not even have our communities. Let them be heard, after all, they are the ones that are going to be paying for most of this bond. Mrs. Tines, people have a right to their own opinion, just like you do, please be respectful to them because they have the same right to do so, just like you do. We may not all agree, but THANK GOD, we have the right to do so !!!

    -- Posted by sanecomments on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 2:39 PM
  • I certainly hope that the students of some of these parents do not speak to each other, their parents or teachers in the same manner shown here. It has degenerated into childish "he said, she said" and "you said it first" finger pointing. Honestly none of this helps the situation,none of this sets an example, and none of this is anything we ADULTS should be proud of.In all actuality if you were putting the needs of your students first - then you would speak in a way that you would want them to emulate. Perhaps the teachers could give us all a time-out and we could think about the consequences of our actions and words.

    -- Posted by mommily on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 4:51 PM
  • About this name calling. Maybe we should clean up the Elementary faculty leaders with their name calling before voting on a bond. You would think them and their spouses would be more careful as they do represent the schools. Why does the school board allow this? There is no respect about opinions and being made fun of is degrading.

    We knew how we were going to vote, but now with that representation it is VOTE NO!

    -- Posted by soos on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 11:23 AM
  • I must be uniformed on this name calling I have not seen one name be cast on this sight...I have seen 2 opinions one backed by facts the other with pixie dust.

    -- Posted by hitchcockmom on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 1:18 PM
  • I've been against both bonds simply due to the fact that they are both for 2 separate locations. There's no reason there couldn't be one location. If there's concern to keep the elementary away from the jr./sr. high, then separate them with the gym, or two levels, like Culbertson was. They can interact only when needed. I think we need a more long term solution to the problem.

    And all this bickering back and forth is only making you look bad...

    My vote is for one school.

    -- Posted by mom2mom on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 3:09 PM
  • Ok, so for all those against the bond and for one school. What town gets the school? As I understand it Trenton doesn't have the room for a larger school.

    -- Posted by kkccv5 on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 3:41 PM
  • I think unless someone has something HONEST and TRUTHFUL to add they need to stop all the bickering. It is not helping to try to force people to take sides. Just be informed and vote what is best for our students, not our egos.

    -- Posted by i'minformed on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 5:24 PM
  • How can we be informed if the people against the bond have never had a public meeting? As for the public meeting held at the Church of God it was at the request of a Culbertson woman... All she was doing was trying to find a neutral site for the meeting... She may have asked the Superintendent and a school board member.. That doesnt mean there werent any other board members at the meeting...Everyone was invited to come.. Anyone who attended this or any other public meetings have had time to ask their questions....

    I believe that the school has given everyone ample meetings to find out the facts... my problem is the one school people are running around like a secret society not telling anyone the truth and bullying those who dont feel the way they do...

    -- Posted by hitchcockmom on Tue, Apr 26, 2011, at 7:17 PM
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