To the editor:

Ignorance is the state of not-knowing. It is not, necessarily, a bad thing. There are many things that I am ignorant about, namely: the Chinese language, the sport of cricket, and deep sea fishing. However, there are many things that I am not ignorant about, such as: calculus, integrity, and the sweet smell of raw sewage.

Make no mistake about it, we have many very successful academic courses at MCHS. Our students currently have the opportunity to earn more than 30 college credits upon graduation. Education is happening at MCHS at an exponentially high level. This fact will remain - regardless!

We can only strive to be as honest and forthright as we can. When myself and others speak about the great accomplishments of our students at MCHS and the deplorable conditions of our building we are being truthful.

The smell is gross and probably unhealthy. I cannot count the number of times in the last 14 years that the smell of raw sewage has permeated the hallway in B wing. Where does this smell come from? - the river of raw sewage that flows beneath my wing on the unfortunate days when the pipes back up, which is happening ever more frequently.

Are these the conditions that you want your sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters to learn in? I certainly hope not.

The heating and air-conditioning system in our wing - that rarely work - is a joke. We control the temperature by opening and closing the windows. The list of things that are beyond repair in this building is long. So long, in fact, it would be ridiculous, sad, and shameful if this referendum does not pass. Our youth deserve it!

Please, when considering how to vote for the upcoming referendum, I beg you, listen to those of us who are working day in and day out in this dear old building that is falling apart slowly but surely. Please do not take my advice about deep sea fishing and certainly do not take advice about the referendum from folks who are ignorant about the true conditions of our building!

Vote YES!

Lee Strassell

Calculus teacher

Madison Consolidated High School

To the editor:

I am about to finish my 12th year teaching at MCHS, first as an art teacher and then adding theater courses a few years ago. I have directed the theater program for about 10 years, just finishing my 40th production in the Opal E. Sherman Auditorium.  I am always delighted by what my students learn while producing a show, and I am proud to say our program continues to grow each year.  We have even had several students transfer to Madison so they could take part in our arts programming.

We have had theater students go on to work at Late Night with David Letterman, costume designer and professor, Fox Studios, Sea World theater tech, the latest Superman movie, and more! However, it is not our goal to get to Hollywood. Our goal is for our students to be creative, empathetic thinkers who are well spoken, passionate individuals who can achieve success in the career of their choice.

My arts students have a ton of determination, passion, and dedication. I know it is time for them to have a facility to match.  The current theater facility may look fine from the audience, but the production mechanics of the space are sorely dilapidated, out of date, and unsafe.  The auditorium is an original part of the building from 1960 with a surface remodel in 1994 with new curtains, seats, and lobby.  My theater parents organization, MCS, and myself have been having this discussion since 2008.

The current issues from a production standpoint include:

1. There are several points of water entry from rain and failing heating and cooling mechanics, which are located on the stage. A durable stage floor is sorely needed, instead of the patched uneven buckled wood floor.

2. The failing heating and cooling mechanics has been patched for long enough. The failures often cause extreme fluctuations in temperature.

3. The ceiling is falling down in the balcony from roof leakage.  There are also major roof leaks in the outer lobby and balcony.

4. The amount of stage and wing space is not sufficient for our growing arts programming.  We often have 50- 70 students in a production.  Add them and the scenery and props to the stage, and there is concern for safe exits.

5. There is no safe access to stage lighting and stage rigging.  Students and faculty must use  a 12-foot ladder to reach the equipment on stage.

6. There are no dressing rooms. Students must change in the hallways or in the restrooms, leaving no restrooms for the public.

7. There is no safe prop or set construction area. Students and parent volunteers must use the stage to construct and finish set pieces.

8. The electrical system is out of date.  The system overheats and dims at will. We have had light fixtures melt down, and a fireball shoot out of the back wall from faulty wires.  A wiring meltdown recently occurred in the choir room as well.

9. There is no orchestra pit.  Our orchestra must sit or stand right in front of the stage.

10. All of the curtains are 15 years past their fire retardant expectancy.

11. There is no storage for props and costumes.

There are currently 450 students enrolled in fine arts courses at Madison, with 63 of those in the Fine Arts Academy, and approximately 300 of those participating in after school fine arts programming.

To renovate the current gym into a new performing arts center will allow us the opportunity to correct all of the issues outlined above. The new center design will allow for community theater, orchestra, lectures, and visiting performers.

It is proven that students who participate in the arts score higher on the SAT's, are more likely to stay in school, more likely to serve as a civic volunteer, and be a lifelong learner. The U.S. Department of Labor states that there are more citizens working in the fine arts than in law, medical, or agricultural fields.

Our goal at Madison is to provide a safe and efficient fine arts space for our students and community and to be a leader in fine arts public education.

Aaron Kelsey

Madison Theatre Director

Madison Fine Art Academy Director

To the editor:

We are more than troubled by the Madison school district tax referendum. The entire process, and by association the leaders who designed and delivered it to the public, does not meet basic standards of honesty and integrity. If we are to have a beneficial outcome, we must expect our elected leaders to rise to the occasion.

We have seen and heard more than enough evidence to label this referendum as deceptive, especially on the funding proposal. It is our obligation to call out unethical behavior from any government entity. At this point, no matter the validity of underlying arguments, we cannot condone lying. The end does not justify the means. Therefore, it is our civic duty to vote NO on this referendum.

Martha Stephanus, Sara & Tony Stephanus


To the editor:

Soon we will be going to the polls to decide a very important issue. We always want the best education for our children, but I fail to see how that building a new gym and turning the old gym at Madison High School into a fine arts center will help in kids' education.

I understand some say it is needed because of needed renovation to the gym and school, but I see every day, people renovating their property because it is much cheaper for the finished product. $40 million is a large amount and would go a long way in building new classrooms and renovating the school.

They say your property taxes will only increase a small amount; however have you ever seen a project such as this cost what is said.

My property taxes have increased several times in the last five years. Some might say, well I rent, and it won't cost me at all. You are fooling yourself. Your rent will go up. What about the industry we seem to have problems attracting, are they going to pay for it? As property owners and working people we seem to always have the burden on our backs.

Now, why didn't we have money to keep our country schools open just a short time ago? Canaan, Anderson and Dupont have already been closed with more being put on the close list.

You know, on the horizon, a new elementary will be considered to consolidate the entire grade schools together and you will have another referendum to consider which will raise your property taxes again. I like these little country schools; $40 million would go a long way to renovate, not build a new gym.

Please vote no on the school tax referendum on May 6.

Larry G. Andress