Dear Editor,

There’s been a lot of recent letters regarding the Bellaire Schools and its attempt to pass another levy.

In the majority of these letters a lot of frustration is shared among the Bellaire community, with an underlying shared question of, “where is my money going?” Furthermore, it sounds like a lot of these authors have done some research to find their own answers, which is remarkably honorable and shows responsibility in voting.

Unfortunately, most of these letters condemn another school levy. Before I go into supporting evidence of urging voters to vote affirmative on a school levy, I must precede so by admitting I am biased because of my mother’s service to Bellaire Schools for nearly 17 years before her passing.

For 17 years, I saw first hand the hard, dedicated, background work of my mother and her fellow school teachers. I’ve seen the shared tears between these teachers when something bad happens with a student at home, I’ve seen the multiple teachers working after hours into the night and during the summer in a scorched, un-air conditioned building perfecting lesson plans to a demanding State’s requirements, and I’ve seen the unreimbursed supplies and even toys for Christmas when parents couldn’t afford them that teachers purchased. So, please remember when criticizing the schools, don’t criticize the teachers. They believe in a better community and they work towards it. That’s why they became teachers to begin with, even though the staring salary with a four year degree is $27K (around $14/hr before taxes, pension, and unreimbursed supplies, toys, etc).

Vote affirmative on the levy because it sends a message to the State, to businesses looking to relocate, to the community and surrounding communities – that you support your children and your town. One letter I read questioned why the Bellaire Police can’t have a levy, citing their wages are of that of an employee at Subway. Well, it doesn’t work like that with the police; police receive funding by taxing businesses. Businesses want to be part of communities that help and believe in themselves. A business will not relocate or start in a community that has voted “no” on multiple school levies. Instead, a business will go to St. Clairsville, where that community approved their last school levy, where most business in Belmont County is located, where the crime rate is much lower because the police dept. can afford to hire and pay a sufficient amount of personnel, with okay wages too. You don’t have to go far to find a community that helps itself and shows evidence of working – just look at St. Clairsville.

Bellaire, we’ve been the joke of Belmont County for a long time. Recently, we’ve come a long way – a newly revitalized park, beautiful gazebo, free events that city council keeps approving, a farmers market, and much more. Let’s keep this momentum going.

So, where is your money going? Its send a message that you believe in Bellaire and it’s most important commodity – our children, our schools. It’s sending a message to businesses that if you come here, we’ll take care of you because we take care of ourselves. Be proud, Bellaire. Attract business, wealth, and growth. Results won’t appear tomorrow like another pizza shop that seems to always pop up here, but eventually a stable, big business will look at and believe in us. It takes a community and it starts with you.

Chase Maffe,