Communications with Unit 4

I have sent a few questions to the Board and Stephanie Stuart (separate emails):

 

These got me to thinking that I need to expand on my Plan B a bit more. In two different directions.

 

Plan B – first fork

Unit 4 is in a bit of a pickle when it comes to capital improvements and taxes. Even if/when the $150 million referendum passes (for brevity, I will hereafter call it $150 million even if it is $148,xxx,xxx or over $150 million next year), we are told that the district still has a bucket list of nearly $100 million in deferred maintenance. If you think about it, the $150 million is itself a bucket list – it addresses the issue of no A/C, lack of athletic fields and lack of parking at Central. But there are many other issues reported at various board meetings. Unfortunately, it is hard to find this bucket list in a central location, and even if you did find a list, it would not be ordered by importance or criticality. And be warned, they are not all equal. Just a recent letter to the editor reminds us that Dr. Howard seems to get shafted time and time again. How important are all these individual issues? This is my next task, and forms the basis of my email to Stephanie. It seems that the public needs to be educated on what the district truly needs, and if the community truly wishes to show support for their public schools, they will vote in favor of addressing those needs. This is what a Capital Improvement Plan is.

 

Plan B – second fork

Secondly, all this talk about doing education in new and different ways…. The saying “nothing is new under the sun” is definitely true here – we may wrap newly synthesized words around concepts, but the core concepts have been tried again and again. The focus, I think, should not be on finding that one silver bullet method of “doing” education that will solve all our problems, but rather, we should excel at being adaptive and be able to address the current issues in the most optimal way. To do this, you have to be intimately familiar with 1) the challenges and 2) the tools. Technology is a tool. Educating children with discipline issues is a challenge. Addressing the dysfunctional issues of society is a challenge. In my opinion, this is what the Strategic Plan should address.

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7 Responses to “Communications with Unit 4”

  1. pattsi Says:

    Maybe the handle to these forks that you are creating and any more that you create ought to be trust,
    Was it a bit surprising that the BOE is considering putting Dr. Howard at Columbia? Exactly what neighborhood is DH serving?
    Can anyone confirm or deny that Ms. Bonnet actually “I do not give a damn where the school is located.”? And another factoid mentioned online N-G is that Ms. Bonnet’s home was in foreclosure?

    • kshannon617 Says:

      I was there and can confirm that’s exactly what she said. I do give a damn, so that was rather alienating.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    “rsp” (NG online comments) nailed it:
    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2014-08-11/school-board-approves-ballot-question-14895-million.html#comment-528757

    “I myself would have first made a master plan of what “needs” there were and the priorities for them. Some of these things could have waited, like the school in Savoy was a want not a need. Dr. Howard should have been taken care of beforehand instead if this game of jacking the prices up in hopes there is money left over to do it.”

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Stephanie Stuart implied that this information was covered via presentations at recent Board meetings. *grin* I went looking and found these from the July 28th BOE meeting:
    10-Year CIP LHS Plan
    20-Year Master Facility Plan

    The 10-year plan basically breaks up the bucket list into two major buckets, level “A” and level “B” (the latter of which has two plans, depending if the referendum passes or not).Both buckets total around $6 million, which surprised me because I have heard much bigger numbers for many years. I am not sure why the 10-year plan only targets $6 million. Makes me wonder what is missing.

    That question is partially answered by the 20-year plan. The problem is, the 20-year plan has very general categories (one for each school) that does not go into any detail at all. The 20-year plan lays out just a little shy of $100 million worth of work, which is what I was expecting. But how do both plans overlap, if at all? Shouldn’t the 10-year plan be the first half of the 20-year plan? 🙂

  4. pattsi Says:

    Building more and larger bldgs means more maintenance cost; not unlike the situation with roads and the amount of gas tax communities/counties receive. The more roads that we build; the more need all types of maintenance that equals tax dollars that are now on a downward curve. There is very little discussion related to continuing cost of maintenance.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      So we should redraw the district and city boundaries to be south of I-74? If we keep having babies faster than people fall off the other end of the ladder, we will have an increasing population size. Those people have to go somewhere, right? This goes back to the “draw me a ring” discussion and defining boundaries as opposed to growing without bounds.

      I am not opposed to discussing ongoing maintenance costs at all – it is very similar to the “total cost of ownership” when shopping for cars. Unit 4 has kind of already laid out some of those maintenance costs in the two plans above, but I can see where more detail (and more questions?) is needed. What confuses me is that tax money, which is initially used for a specific set of purposes, seem to always get absorbed into other budget items. For instance, Unit 4 has been selling off unused properties, yet our taxes have not gone down. Why not?

      • kshannon617 Says:

        I’d like to see more discussion of how we can keep Champaign compact, even as its population rises. We can keep the number of roads down if we make active transit options–walking, biking, and busing–available and attractive.

        A comment on one of the News-Gazette stories this week pointed out the cost of building a new high school in Normal in 1995 was $18.5 million. Another commenter assumed a 50% increase for going from 1,500 to 1,700 students and a 4% inflation rate for the last 20 years, and came up with a comparable figure for Central of $55 million. I’m still having a hard time finding a breakdown of costs for the $97 million, but I’d love to see where the differences are coming in. (I’m not having an easy time finding construction costs for high schools in Illinois, so if anyone knows of a good place to look, I’d appreciate the links!)

        We’d sure have a lot of extra money for infill construction if we went with a cheaper construction cost. What am I missing? (Probably a TON, because I’ve never looked into this before.)


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