It’s worthwhile noting that RB’s current financial crisis is exactly the same thing we faced 40 years ago.

In 1966 the economy was prosperous, and we passed a major building referendum. A new gym was added to the east side; construction took three years. Another referendum followed its completion, seeking more money to operate.

But by then the economy had soured: we were mired in a recession. An unpopular foreign war (Vietnam) raged. The price of oil rose; unemployment and inflation skyrocketed. The housing market sagged. Consumer confidence collapsed. Sound familiar?

It should. Forty years later, history is repeating itself. Flush with prosperity, in 2006 we passed another major building referendum. Three years of construction brought us a second new gym on the east side, and, voila, another operating referendum, passage of which will increase your last year’s total property tax bill by a whopping 5.5 percent, the largest hike ever.

And once again the economy has soured; this recession’s the deepest since the 1930s. An unpopular foreign war rages, the price of oil has risen and unemployment has spiked. The housing market’s dead, consumer confidence is on life support, inflation is already appearing in the grocery store nearest you.

The historical parallels are so compelling they scream for attention. So how did it turn out back then? How did we solve the problem?

Well, it wasn’t with a tax increase. In 1970-71 the operating referendum was defeated three times in a row. But a solution was finally fashioned: the budget was trimmed.

At that time we had almost 2,000 students and 111 teachers. Ten positions were eliminated, leaving 101 teachers. Some extracurricular activities were also scaled back to make ends meet. It was painful, but it was necessary, and we did it. It solved the problem. And as time passed, no one ever charged that the educational quality of the school declined.

This time we have 125 teachers serving 1,444 students. Fourteen more teachers instruct 500 fewer students than the last time we came to this crossroad. It’s obvious what we have to do. We know, because we did it before and it worked.

We think the study of history so important we require our schools to teach it to our kids. We adults should not ignore its lessons, either.

Vote no to the referendum.

Terence M. Heuel