We write in favor of the upcoming school bond election on May 12. Although we can list multiple reasons why this bond should pass, there is one reason that personally stands out from the rest. We hope to offer a perspective that most might not consider when deciding whether or not to vote “yes” to pass the school bond.

Our son has a physical disability requiring the use of a power wheelchair for all mobility. He will attend Kindergarten at Central Elementary beginning in the Fall, and he is so excited about going to “big school.” We want to be excited with him, but instead we are extremely anxious about sending him to a school that has significant accessibility and safety concerns. There are major drop-offs on the sidewalks throughout most of the transitions he will have to make. These drop-offs pose a serious danger for all children, but most especially for children requiring the use of wheelchairs, walkers, or even hand held assistance for mobility. There is minimal to no ramp access available to multiple areas of the campus. And where there is ramp access, our son will have to travel longer distances than his peers to access those ramps. All building-to-building transitions require kids to walk through either public parking or thoroughfares. This in itself is a major safety concern and should never be allowed. Because Central and Chamberlin have multiple structures that all students access on a daily basis, the children are having to transition several times a day in all kinds of weather. Not only are they losing valuable classroom time, but they are being exposed to extreme weather conditions that pose health concerns. Children with special needs are at even greater risk for injuries and health problems in these conditions.

Shouldn’t our children’s learning environment be of the highest quality and safety available? Shouldn’t the quality of education and the quality of our schools be a high priority for our community? The teachers in the school district are instructed and held accountable for teaching to the best of their ability. Shouldn’t we, as the community, be held accountable for making sure they have acceptable and appropriate tools and environment to carry out that task? And shouldn’t we make sure that the “children of our future,” including those with disabilities, are safe and provided equal opportunities for success in school?

Regardless of whether or not the bond passes, it will not help make Central a safer or more accessible school for our son this coming school year. Central has already and will continue to make the best environmental modifications that they possibly can with the existing structures to optimize safety and accessibility; however, there is only so much they can do with the age of the existing structures. We are so thankful for the many parents of older children with special needs that have helped pave the way for our child in various ways along our journey. We support the proposed bond in effort to help pave the way for future families with special needs children. These families have enough to worry about and deal with. Their child’s safety and accessibility while attending school should not be one of them!

Thank you, to all the elected school board members, school administrators, and community volunteers that have worked diligently on this bond proposal. We believe the approval of the school bond is the right step for the Stephenville voters/community to take. Vote “Yes” on May 12, to help make a difference in our community, the lives of our children today, and the thousands of children in the future!

Chad and Lacy Gilley