Anyone who knows me knows I am a skeptic when it comes to analyzing the financial impact of decisions to be made and how those decisions impact the town and its residents. I have long advocated it is a fool's errand to spend money we don't have and that borrowing, while perhaps the easiest solution, is not always the best solution.

On Nov. 17, we are being asked if we should borrow a substantial sum of money to renovate the current middle/high school building to return it to its original purpose as a high school. The proposed renovations will not just create a stand-alone high school. They will also develop a school that provides a state-of-the-art environment for learning for students in generations to come.

I have had my misgivings about the proposed project and its funding proposals. Regrettably, emotional overtones on the issue have caused some to take sides in an almost "them-against-us" dialog.

The truth of the matter is a town cannot grow without a good school system for its children and a good school system cannot exist without the support of its residents. Simply stated, we need each other and we need to work together for the good of both. This was the message conveyed during last year's budget meetings and it continues during this year's discussions.

Of all the comments that have been made over the past year, one continues to resonate for me and has become the penultimate factor in my decision. At a public forum to introduce the final design of the new high school earlier this year, there were those who thought borrowing $20 million was not a wise investment because it was too much of "our money." A woman waited patiently at the microphone for her opportunity and when it came, she pointed out that the reimbursement from the MSBA was also "our money" and we should not throw it away.

I cannot agree more!

Now is the best time we will ever have to fund this project -- interest rates are at an all-time low and we are receiving the largest possible reimbursement from the MSBA. Financially, this is a no-brainer.

Thank you to the Ayer-Shirley High School Building Committee, the Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee, the Ayer Finance Committee and the many parents, students, school personnel and residents who contributed to see this dream fulfilled.

I urge everyone to do what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the best interest of everyone and support the debt-exclusion article on Nov. 17.

PAULINE CONLEY

Ayer