Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fresh Start

The 2012-13 school year has begun!  The first classes have been held - the first football game - the first kindergarten class has survived separation anxiety - our local Swanton Enterprise had a great photo on the front page of the newest additions to the teaching staff, as well as the coaching staff on the inside page - a new bus was purchased, and the emergency levy was renewed at the Aug. 7th special election.  A 2-year contract with our secretaries' union was ratified smoothly . . .

Looks like we're off and running!

Although the school board has met regularly each month, you can't tell from the podcast list on the district website, which only goes up to May 15, 2012.  Were no further meetings recorded after that date??  Shame on me for not physically being in attendance - I counted on being able to know what was discussed at school board meetings by listening to the digital recordings, which is mighty hard to do if they don't exist.  

I don't know about You, but if I have prior commitments on those nights that prevent me from being there, I don't want to rely on the Enterprise for information on what transpired - especially since they don't always send a reporter to cover the meetings.  And waiting for the Bulldog Bulletin means getting most of the information long after the fact - not the best option, either.  I'm going to check with some board members to see what's going on with the recordings.

At the most recent board meeting, there was an acceptance of the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC)  "Classroom Facilities Assistance Program", as listed on the agenda for that evening.  Part of the resolution that was passed to accept this proposal involves recognition that "if the districts' electors fail to pass the local proposition with (13 months), the funds reserved for (our) project will be released."  That means if our district doesn't pass a new levy to help pay for a new building, the state will pull its share of the funding and give it to someone else. 

I assume there was some discussion of this at the board meeting on Aug. 14th, but without a digital recording, there is no way for those of us who weren't there to know what was said.  Was the amount needed mentioned?  Was there talk of what type of levy was being considered??  Inquiring minds want to know - especially those who own property and/or have a job whose tax dollars will pay for this.

Well, if you go to the district website and click several times to get to the "detailed agenda" which includes attachments, you'll find the document from the state that lists some particulars (see pgs. 2&3).  The scope of the project is to build a new K-6 building - demolish Crestwood, Park, and the "Cherry Street High School" (translation: the 1904 building).  The local "share" of this project appears to be around $8 million, after some "ELPP Expenditures" are credited.  A tidy sum.

For those of you who believe that these demolitions are a requirement of the state, please know that is not the case.  There were other avenues available that would have allowed one or more of the existing buildings to remain standing for other purposes, but the direction chosen was for demolition of all 3.   As a card-carrying member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it is personally painful for me to acknowledge that the 1904 building is to be destroyed.  I can give you many examples of similar structures that have been saved, updated for current technology, and are being used (LEED platinum, too) in Ohio and Michigan - but here in Swanton our history is not near as important as something new and shiny.  (small wonder that our downtown is so lifeless . . . )  But that is a topic for another blog!  I'm sure those who made the decision believe they made the best choice possible, given all the parameters.  Now that the decision has been made, we should all do our best to rally behind it.

So let's start this new school year with enthusiasm and expectation that it will be a good one, for students, staff, and administration - and then go out, and MAKE it happen!