Letter to the Editor: Incumbent has been supporter of education

Editor:

As a resident and parent with school-age children in Shenandoah County, I am writing to note that under Conrad Helsley’s steady leadership on the Board of Supervisors, our county’s fiscal picture is quite good and he has consistently shown support for our school system.

Since 2003, our county’s debt dropped from $60 million to $55 million – this despite a recession where other counties added debt.  While adding some debt, Shenandoah County also paid off other debt on our facilities.  During that time, our population grew and our debt per-capita is among the lowest in the region.  Even more remarkable is that our county has managed to replace aging buildings and other infrastructure, and preserve historic buildings while reducing debt.

At 57 cents per $100 of assessed value, our county’s real estate tax rate is one of the lowest in the region.  Only Frederick  County is lower by one penny, but Page (64 cents), Clarke (66 cents) and Rockingham (68 cents) remain higher.

For all the noise and fury surrounding the Rappahannonk-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail, the project has been successful.  Shenandoah County’s old jail was no longer up to state standards or capacity.  The state’s policy was that it would pay half the cost of regional jails, but that counties that build their own would pay the entire cost of construction. Shenandoah County’s share of the cost of the RSW jail was far less than the cost of constructing our own jail.  With three counties sharing the operating costs of the jail, citizens will see further savings.

One area where our county has fallen short lately is investment in education.  Those of us with children crowded into Sandy Hook Elementary are acutely aware that our schools are in need of changes to meet safety and instructional needs of all students.  There too, Dr. Helsley has been a leader, supporting needed investments in education when other supervisors opposed them.

Thank you, Dr. Helsley for attending the most recent School Board meeting to hear first-hand the short-term space recommendations.  Conrad Helsley, David Ferguson, and Steve Baker recognize investment in education must happen now, rather than planning for it later.

Jennifer DiMarco, Strasburg

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