June 8 meeting looked a lot like this May meeting
Superintendent Culp presented a shorter list of facility options at a June 8 community meeting, The three choices now being presented by the board are:
Moderately renovation of all three buildings – $35 million.
Extensively renovate the schools – $55 million.
Renovate Stevenson school and the high school and build a new Middle school on the current Edison/Larson site – $50 million.
Stevenson should be saved
A top choice in the first facility meeting was to move all of the Stevenson classes to a renovated or new campus at the middle school location. The board implied with a survey question that there may be a deal in the works to turn Stevenson into a “community center”, but no council member had knowledge of any plans for the use of the building by the city.
The reason for moving schools into a smaller number of buildings is efficiency, a single large building is cheaper to heat and cool than many scattered buildings. This is of course making the efficiency into the prime factor, and ignores the historical considerations about the old buildings.
Stevenson is no longer on the chopping block in the latest plans. This probably means the board will not chose to close the school, but they don’t have to follow the will of the 75% who wanted it saved, they can do whatever they want.
Millions for sports renovation
The board also announced a 2 million plan for new locker rooms, renovations to the home bleachers and resurfacing for the track. If the board follows the same tactic it used to complete the renovation of the artificial football field last year, there will be no public meetings to discuss the options, the board will simply do what they want.
Financial advisory committee to be formed
A financial advisory committee is scheduled to begin work at the start of 2018. The group will be reviewing project funding, whether the project should be completed in phases, and what the cost of a bond issue or levy would be for taxpayers. They might shoot for a fall 2018 levy.
One obvious choice for new school funds has never been mention by the school board, placing an income tax for the school system on the ballot. I can’t quite understand if this is because the school board doesn’t like income taxes, has never discussed the matter, or has been told by residents that they didn’t want a new income tax.
Treasurer Collier said that the Financial committee will be looking at the income tax possibility (during the June8 meeting), but with no statement of support or public disparagement of an income tax from the school board, the committee will be left to take all the heat generated from proposing a new tax. This seems like a cowardly way for the board to deal with tax issues.
I’m also waiting to hear if the board will chose to make the new finance committee closed to all visitors, keeping the proceedings secret like the Facility Task Force. That was a dumb move by the board that gave them no advantage, but served to reinforce the idea that the board works in secret and refuses to let the community know what they are doing in closed meetings.
New survey is super duper push polling
I noted in another story that the school board was using push polling in the last survey, using the questions more as a way to influence public opinion, rather than to learn about those opinions.
The new survey is even worse – pushing the statement that $44 million are needed as a baseline, and implying that the least costly option – $35 million – is a bad choice.
One of the questions asks you to give your own idea for an option for the schools. I don’t want to “push” anyone. But you can leave a message for the board about what you think of their performance in running the facility process in the “fill in what you want” box.
A third community facility meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3.