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The big, overarching question in this debate should be: "Does anyone believe that spending $26 million for the bond issue will improve the education of our kids?". Although we don't have exit polls to inform us of why people voted the way they did, I suspect many voters answered this question with a "no" vote.
If more space is really needed, fine, let's add space, but at a cost the economically-embattled citizens of this community can afford. If we don't need it quite yet, let's wait until we do. Let's forget the argument about "it's cheap money now, we'd better spend it while it's here". The truth is, times are tough and about to get even tougher. President Obama has finally admitted his multi-trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see are unsustainable. Can you say "inflation"?
With the prospect of high inflation, does anyone really want to saddle ourselves to a $26 million mortgage?
The truth is: buildings don't educate students. They can't. If you want to see what effect billions of dollars and world-class facilities had on student achievement, just look across the state line in Kansas City, MO. in the 1980's. Just Google it.
My solution: Let's go ahead and spend the $26 million dollars and pay the loan off over 12 years, the time it takes a 1'st grader to graduate from high school, put the money in an interest-bearing account and use 100% of the money in the classrooms of our district over that 12 years.
Pay teachers based on performance and end tenure. Extend the school day, extend the school year, increase graduation requirements, provide remedial after-hours programs for kids who want and need extra help, organize ("track") classes so kids of similar ability are put in the same classes to maximize educational efficiency, get rid of then-unneeded paras and other personnel, require uniforms, a strict code of conduct and get serious about homework. End social promotion from one grade to the next. While you're at it, ax any organized sport or other non-mission-critical activity that's expensive or isn't an educational benefit to the whole student body.
Simply put, in exchange for the $26 million dollars, governments and school districts agree to get serious about education for a switch.
For those I have just angered, let me say that Intramural sports can be organized and run by the Rec commission and played on school district fields/courts after hours for free or paid for by the players or paying fans.
Twenty-six million dollars spent directly in USD 464 classrooms and a few common-sense business-like changes would really be doing something "for the kids". Can you imagine the future these kids would have?
I'd be the first to vote "yes" for this bond issue.
April 15, 2011 at 11 p.m.
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