To the editor:
Since renovating the current high school is not, and obviously never was, a viable option, the only concern the school board seems focused on is acquiring money for a new school. A few minutes of thought about the total package this project requires leaves one thinking there are a ton of missing links. For example:
• The figures cited focus on the cost of the high school’s footprint. Nothing is mentioned about how an empty field, without even as much as a fire hydrant, will end up with systems to support water, sewage, electrical infrastructure, parking lots, roads, curbs, landscaping and a ton of other needs. How will this be financed?
• How will students get to and from the new school on the edge of the town or move After School Program students from the various schools to the soon-to-be-vacated Freshman Success Academy (FSA) at the end of the school day? How many more school busses will be needed to support all that?
• How can the school board and school administrators so cavalierly plan to vacate an extensively, expensively renovated, long-term-debt-saddled building (FSA building) and then suggest shaky solutions for occupancy in it considering the cost for maintenance, utilities and bond payments fail to justify those options?
• How much will it cost to demolish the current high school and what will be done with the property?
• A justification for building a new school at the current school’s site was bringing in tournaments. Lately it’s reported that demolishing Al Simpler Stadium would be problematic, so the stadium (and tennis courts, etc.) might be retained where they are presently even if the edge-of-town school is built. How does that square with the first sentence of this item? More bussing to move students?
• There is a requirement for the school district to sell bonds before the state will commit funds. Taxpayers are ultimately the collateral for those bonds. The state mandates those bonds will be paid off even if financial plans go south. What happens if the district only gets a fraction or even nothing because the “competition” got to the trough first? Will the district withdraw the bonds if state support evaporates, or will we be left holding a gigantic bag of additional debt? (Hello, huge mill increase!)
• The Bartell House and the Opera House, buildings way older than the current high school, were renovated and are currently in use. How can it be that architects, engineers and tradesmen cannot do the same to a much younger high school building?
• Student population appears to be declining.
Seems to me the refurbishing option needs to be picked back up off the floor, put back on the plate and this cobbled-together new school plan kicked to the curb. What a mess. Hubris writ large.