A group that calls themselves “Good for Grandview” has announced they will oppose the current school plan to spend $50 million on a new middle school, as well as extensive remodeling of the other buildings. Via a new website, they list a number of complaints with the facility review process, and state that they believe there is no way that voters will pass an unprecedentedly large levy. They say they are not just a “No” group, they are in favor of a right sized facility upgrade.
The founders of this group are an impressive list of parents and former school board members. This is not a bunch of anti-tax zealots or a sore losers club, they are the people who were sitting in the front rows during the many meetings of the facility review and educational process.
The group speaks well for themselves on their website – go read it! The reasons for their creating the group can be summarized as the following:
If the school board tries to pass an unprecedentedly high levy to pay for $50 million in construction at the schools, the group feels that there is no way it can pass. There is simply not that much money that can be raised in this small town. There has not been formal organized opposition to levies in the past, and almost all were approved by the voters. Tension between the pro-levy boosters, and opponents, will tear apart the community. The schools will remain in the current condition. They call it a lose-lose-lose proposition.
The group points out that the “$44 million in deferred maintenance” that has been repeated at every opportunity by the administration is a figure that is not applicable to the reality of the buildings – that number assumes that complete tear out and replacement of all systems in order to meet current codes and standards as though they were built today. An older report by a company called “K-12 Consulting” concluded that around $500K per year would be needed to keep the schools running for the next ten years (that included major new systems like boiler replacement).
The GfG (I guess that will be their acronym) saw a number of problems with the way the facility review process was run by the school board. They mentioned the closed to the public Task Force meetings, and the way the surveys and exit tickets were designed to minimize open-ended discussion and steer the process toward a narrow range of possible outcomes. Although the word “transparency” was a favorite of the administration and the board, the reality was that they failed to act in any way that would earn that name.
This is a big deal, there has never been organized opposition to the school board like this before. The board was probably going to go with the full $50 million plan, that option is now dead as a doornail.
The question is, what now? I sure don’t have any pull on the board, but if I thought they might listen, I would tell them this.
School board – stop the manipulation of the parents and community. There have been too many lies, and half truths, and exaggerations. You have succeeded only in making it clear that the whole facility process was a way to push the public around and rig the outcome. Nobody was fooled.
We know why you did it – I talked at length about your motivation in my post “What’s wrong with the School Board’s optimism?”. You closed yourself out of any feedback, and hyped each other with the fantasy that $50 million could be “manifested” with the correct words to the public (and with the payment of big bucks to consultants). Now you have been slapped back to reality.
Just stop all the manipulation. It is sad and foolish. Instead, try listening for a while.
Beth Collier, Treasurer. You really need to look at those videos of your speaking before the public at the facility meetings. You did a terrible job. Nobody was the least bit influenced, except to wonder why they put you up there. Tell the board that your job is to control the finances, and that is all.
Andy Culp, Superintendant. You are better than Collier at public speaking, but it was pure arrogance that lead you to believe you could go into the homes of people in the community and use a handshake and a pat on the back to convince everyone that your plan to build new schools was going to work. People noticed the arrogance – the fact that most of those home meetings were just the Andy show with hours of your monolog was noticed. You need to shut up, and do some listening.
Board members Douglass and Evans. You can have your little ceremony as you leave the board, and pretend that you didn’t leave the schools in worse shape than when you started. Then you can go back to being normal community members, and shut up. Ms Palmisciano, you can just sit and listen for a while. Was there a board member I forgot? I don’t remember.
Board President Truett. Resign for the board. Immediately. More than any one else, it was your arrogance that lead the board into the troubles that it now must deal with. You will be nothing but a hindrance to the board in finding a way forward. Because I know right now, you are thinking “those idiots are ruining all my fine work, I will get even with them for stabbing the board in the back”. You are going to make this a fight, and if it tears Grandview to pieces, so what – you are always right, so it must be everyone else who is wrong.
What happens now
I’m waiting for some responses from the board and the administration to some emails, so I can get a inkling of the way the board will go from here. My guess is – they will go into full bunker mode, complete silence. They will do some light blame gaming, but conclude that it really wasn’t any board member’s fault. And then come back out with guns blazing, ready to rip the community wide open with total warfare.
The only wild cards are the two new board members, they don’t have something to prove by fighting for an expensive facility plan. Could they be the internal resistance that will short circuit the war?
How the board should be building trust back with the community
I think this is a basic, fundamental good government path to recovery for the board. My suggestions, after they do some listening:
Admit the mistakes the board made. And not just “mistakes were made” false apologies, there should be a list of specific mistakes the board made, an accounting of which board members pushed the board into those mistakes, and a public promise that those board members will atone for their mistakes.
What – why are you laughing? It could happen.
(Update 12/7/17) One week after emails to the board and the administration, and total silence from them. There was an article in the TVN about the GfG group, and a brief reaction from Culp that made no mention of faults in the board or administration in the facilities process.