Thursday, March 24, 2011

A bond evening . . .

I have been sharing more of my experiences lately so my blog folder is getting thick with topics I would like to share, but I need to focus this post on this evening’s PTA bond meeting at Lake Wilderness Elementary. As we get closer to the vote, more and more questions are being asked as people decide how to vote. Having these opportunities to share the need and describe our experience is critical. Unfortunately, the turnout for this and others is not large considering we have over 24,000 voters in our school district. Tonight’s turnout of around 80 was good compared to many in the past, but it thousands more need the information to make an informed vote.

Many thanks to the PTAs for hosting this event and Tanya Donahue for being the point person, facilitating the evening, and sharing her experience as a student in a year round, multi-track school system. Once again, community members Sean Stewart and Jim Hutchinson did a great job of sharing their thinking on the importance of the bond measure and answering questions. They were followed by two high school seniors, Emily Pierre and Josh Tavener, who did an incredible job of sharing their experiences in our system and on the importance of voting.

We have learned that one of the messages that is going around the community is telling people to vote NO this time because we have included more than we need. By voting NO the board will then come back with a smaller bond package. As I suggested this evening, that may not be the case. There are four major projects on this bond measure that add up to $115 million of the total $125 million. I struggle to see how the board would eliminate one or more of them. The projects are designed to create new seats and replace portable seats by building a new elementary, replacing Lake Wilderness Elementary, and adding on to both the junior and senior high. We don’t have space for the projected enrollment increases without new seats.

Another of the messages we are receiving refers to the auditorium at the high school as not necessary and a frill. This mental model has been in place for many years and two previous bond measures that failed have reinforced this mental model for many. As we know, mental models are difficult to influence and this one seems to be particularly difficult. The auditorium is a part of any comprehensive high school in this area and across this state. We do not currently have a performance facility at our high school for our young people to showcase their talent as those that participate in sports and other activities can do. It is a facility that will meet academic, performance, and community needs.

What concerns are you hearing and/or have that need to be answered as you make a decision on this critical system need? What questions can you answer with factual information? We need all the help that we can get to distribute the information into the hands of the voters.


Stacy said...

I hear, "It is too much money, I don't have it, I don't have any more to spare." and this was from an employee of the district!
I hear, "The district should NEVER have asked for tech money last year if the overcrowding was such a severe issue. We are paying for the tech, that is enough."
This statement is the one I hear the MOST right now, from community and from staff member."They are bluffing, they will never go to year round school. People and staff will leave."
This person was quite angry, "They knew this five years ago and kept telling community members we have enough room, but behind closed doors, they knew and chose not to be proactive about it. This is the district's fault for not paying attention. Every school had portables, enough at each for a for a whole school, they should have done something then."
Mike, we have lots of issues that need to be addressed. People are angry and for myself, I am worried my daughter will be in the mix.

Anonymous said...

A big concern is the 25 plus years of under staffing the district's maintenance and custodial department is beginning to show on each of the multi-million dollar facilities. At some point in time a preventative maintenance plan should have been put in place. I would like to hear the plan for enhancing this department, heck it looks like lots of square footage will be added if this bond passes and what's the staffing going to look like, most likely the same old thing. Fact; a clean and safe building raises students test scores because attendance goes up for both students and staff plus the money you save because you are not paying for substitutes.