Wednesday, 12 October 2011

250,000 DOLLARS

What could you buy for $250,000 dollars? A new house? Maybe every family on your street could get a new car. What could a school district do with 250,000 dollars? They could hire 5 new teachers for a year. They could have a new textbook adoption. OR----they could hire a firm!

Well, you guessed it they are hiring a firm. What makes this firm so valuable? I don't know and I really don't think anyone at that meeting knew- really even the contractor asking for the contract. These people were architects (apparently). But they don't plan on doing any architectural plans- one of the board members asked about this and it was explained to him that if any building was going to be done they would absolutely have to hire architects to make that plan. No these architects are going to set up meetings with staff to discuss where the district is and where they want to go - pie in the sky kind of stuff.

Even some of the board members discussed the risk that they would hire this firm and nothing would come of it. The newspaper today discussed a  15 year projection for the planning but the real number bandied about by the consultants as well as the board was 50 years! Who in this world really knows what the world will be like in 50 years?!! Well, the school business manager of all people, thinks she knows what the world will be like in the future. She even knows what education will be like (REALLY??). As far as I know she's a great business manager but maybe she should just stay in her area of expertise. The business manager made a big speech recommending the hiring of the firm because the future in the world, and I guess according to her, in education, will all be collaborative. We'll need new spaces to accommodate all this collaboration. Shouldn't the school board have recognized that their business manager is not an educator and would know nothing about the future in the delivery of educational services?

Back in the 60's they thought everything was going to be collaborative too, or  they hoped. Remember Rossiter School? The school in the round where they had to put up all the walls when they found out things couldn't work so open and collaborative? Ray Bjork and Broadwater had to put up partitions too after the abysmal failure of this experiment. Even their own new age education , the digital academy, is less collaborative and requires working on your own at home on a computer.

The truth is that none of us really know the future. What we do know is that this country, and states and cities across the nation are broke. We need to spend our money judiciously. What this firm is about really is getting a new bond issue, read YOUR PROPERTY TAXES ARE GOING UP! One of the firm members did mention the figure $200,000,000 but he said that was too high- they couldn't go that high with a bond. Well, how high can they go? Another presenter from the firm mentioned that other firms (Not theirs thank goodness) have had an 80% success rate in getting their bond passed. So this firm will get $26,000.00 just for getting the staff together and finding out where we are (we need to know how many soccer fans we have for example), and then $62,000 ostensibly for every phase after that. These
other phases will include getting the stake holders together (this may be you) and putting together and presenting a plan with, I guess, a price tag. In other words, they will be doing a lot of ground work and public relations work for this big bond.

I am not against bonds and I am not against good schools for kids, but in my view we already pay a great deal for our schools ( 75% of the huge property taxes you pay go to the schools). Is it O.k. to think about good old mom and dad struggling to raise a family and grandma and grandpa who are living on a fixed income just a little bit? I wonder if this board would have hired this firm if it was their own money they were spending. It's time to stop experimenting with our children's education and do common sense things   in realistic ways that will really improve our schools and help our children. Let's start with the overcrowding in the valley. Apparently, the 10.8 MILLION DOLLARS we already spent over 7 years went to replace a boiler and I guess hire this firm.This bond was passed in 2007. We used to do upkeep of buildings out of the general fund and not have to go to the tax payers again. We used to hire our own superintendents without spending $15,000.00 from the tax payers to hire a firm. ARE WE ALL GOING TO BE TAXED OUT OF OUR HOUSES?

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