January 28, 2010 in Washington Voices

New school plan doesn’t add up

Chip Magnuson Special to The Spokesman-Review
 

About this column

Vocal Point is written by members of the community about issues of area interest. If you’d like to address a topic in this space, let us know. Contact Jeff Jordan at (509) 927-2170 or by e-mail at voice@spokesman.com to discuss what you’d like to write.

I believe it when Cheney School District says the middle school is overcrowded and needs repair. I also believe that the voters of Cheney School District will pass the bond. However, that’s where the district and I go down different paths.

It defeats my logic that tearing down a building and building a new one will be less expensive than building a new one. All the school district has given out is the projected costs. However, I ask to be shown that they are making the right fiscal decisions. Break down the costs of fixing the old building and adding an addition versus tearing down and building a completely new building. The party line for the school district is throwing the scare tactic out about the “need” for a new school. We don’t need to be convinced of the need; we need to be convinced that the method or course is the smartest.

Funding as usual is what this bond represents. Washington state funding of basic education and capital projects is broken. There is something drastically wrong when a 96-year-old grandmother has to pay for educational bonds. What the school district will say is state funding will not meet the needs of the project and won’t allow school districts to build until after the children are in the schools and overcrowding is already happening. All this happens with acceptance. Accepting the current funding situation and not trying to change it

Look at the root of the issue; capital building needs are caused by growth. Our political and educational bureaucratic system won’t hold the growth creators accountable. Solutions such as educational assessing properties or “progressive” educational assessing could go a long way in equalizing fairness in educational funding. The key is not accepting that idea that it can’t be done; focus on how it can be accomplished.

I don’t question the need, I question the strategic planning, the method of financing, the evaluation of the projects and the costs associated with each project. I question how the district pursued other funding avenues such as re-districting the boundaries.

Did the district explore other avenues of funding prior to forwarding the bond to the voters? I question the bond submittal timing. Why now vs. when other items are on the ballot? The need was there a year ago and probably was there 5 or 10 years ago. I see the district taking the easiest course of action and the developers are the winners and people like my grandmother will ultimately be the fiscal losers.

Chip Magnuson lives in the Cheney School District. He can be reached by e-mail at 537magspc@gmail.com


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