Day of reckoning for New Paltz middle school

The polls opened at noon today at the New Paltz High School for a vote on whether or not to approve a $50 million bond bill to renovate the Middle School. Temperatures have been rising steadily as the vote has approached, according to the New Paltz Times:

As the vote on the proposed $49.78 million bond to renovate the New Paltz Middle School looms on Tuesday, Feb. 9, letters to the editor are becoming more vitriolic, attacks more personal and lawn signs are multiplying.

Some of those letters to the editor are being reprinted on the websites of the groups that are both stumping for and rallying against the bond bill. New Paltz Middle School Yes!, a group with both a website and 409 fans on Facebook, featured a letter from Larry Braun: 

In fact, the renovation project also constitutes an effective regional economic stimulus. Most of the $30M local taxpayers will contribute and the $20M of state aid (that is in a dedicated fund that cannot be rescinded) will likely be spent locally and regionally for jobs and materials. This will help calm the after-shocks of the recession, which has technically ended, but is still felt by the unemployed and under-water mortgage holders.

Unite Our District, which opposes the bond bill, has posted its own letters to the editor. One of them is from  Allen K. Littlefield, a former schoolteacher: 

When I first came up here to teach in the Kingston school system, way back in '68 (I only  lasted three years I might add) I remember having a conversation with my supervisor.  After one year of teaching I was given a budget for the supplies I needed for the following year.  When I turned in the list it was LESS than the budget given to me.  My supervisor told me "if you don't spend it all we cannot ask for more next year".  This I am afraid is the attitude of most of the districts in the area and perhaps state or even nation wide.  She didn't ask if I NEEDED any more supplies but said if I didn't spend it she would give the left over budget money to another teacher to spend.  This is what we are up against, wants against realistic needs.  

"Malone Vandam," who recently called the plan the "Middle School heist" on his blog New Paltz Journal II, today warned residents of the New Paltz school district that a "yes" vote might mean the end of New Paltz as we know it:

It’s been clear to me for quite some time that it is the school district that is planning the future of New Paltz. By taxing the middle class out of their homes and luring in that better class of taxpayers it needs to pay for its huge obligations to the teachers union, the school district is far from the Sunnybrook Farm education utopia it presents itself as. It is a political bureaucracy with its own interests, and the community is way down the list of its interests other than as a source of revenue.  

The debate seems to be spiraling beyond New Paltz's borders. National Green Party cochair Rebecca Rotzler (a New Paltz resident and former deputy mayor) is keeping a "Vote Yes" page on Facebook, and is offering to drive people to the polls. And a Watershed Post reader called us to report that NYPIRG is on campus mustering SUNY New Paltz students for the "Yes" vote--a tactic that has raised the hackles of some local homeowners.