Next week voters in the six towns of the Harwood Unified Union School District will be asked to vote on a $59.5 million bond aimed at bringing Harwood Union into the 21st century and expanding Crossett Brook to accommodate all middle schoolers in the district.

As with so many aspects of our lives, what should be a straight-forward consideration of whether to invest a significant sum of money into our education campuses has gotten overly politicized.

What should be a consideration of the merits of the proposal as well as the needs of current and future students and the impacts of the bond on people’s education property tax bills has devolved (at least on some social media bulletin boards) into an ugly morass of accusations, misinformation, outright lies, bullying and worse.

This should not be how we make this decision.

Are we somehow no longer capable of taking the time to understand the bond proposal and forming our own (informed) opinions on whether to cast a yes or no vote? It’s disappointing to see the discourse get dragged away from reasonable considerations and respectful dialogue with our neighbors as we all seek the knowledge to make our decisions.

Without calling for the bond to be voted up or down, we are mindful of several consequences of a yes or no vote on the bond. If the bond passes, the school board members have laid out its impacts on district taxpayers, based on the assessed values of their homes. And it is not insignificant, ranging from several hundred dollars more a year to $600 or more per year.

If the bond fails, the district will still have to make repairs to Harwood Union and will have to do so by increasing the annual budget to cover these costs. Due to the convoluted nature of Vermont’s education funding formula, these extra costs will drive the district’s per pupil spending numbers up to a point where district spending exceeds the state’s per pupil spending threshold resulting in a higher tax rate every year until the necessary repairs are completed.

This is a serious decision for our communities. It is complicated and nuanced. We owe it to ourselves to treat it, and how we vote, with respect.