Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today's Monitor columns ...

This morning's Concord Monitor has published a column I wrote about the elementary school consolidation project: ["My plan costs less and preserves neighborhood schools"].
There is also another good column in the paper from Phil Donovan of the Heritage Commission: ["School board must save historic buildings"].
A few quick points.
First, I didn't choose the headline and I'm sorry I didn't. This one, unfortunately, comes across as a tad arrogant. It isn't really about "my plan," although it was my plan. It could be anyone's plan. It is a "better plan" and had this school district not come into this with a predetermined outcome, it could be one of many we would all get to look at.
Sometimes I offer my own headlines for submitted contributions; sometimes I don't. At my full-time job, I often pick headlines to letters or columns that contributors aren't too hot about. Most of the time, I just use what is suggested. Now I kinda know what it feels like to be on the other end of something that the writer didn't like!
Second, the editor of the newspaper did send me some edits before publication but I really didn't look that closely at them. I just changed a couple of things, like expanding the financials, and sent it back. I wish I had read the edits more thoroughly because the revised introduction reads as if I don't know what I'm talking about.

The original intro read: "The Concord School District is about to approve a massive plan to consolidate our city’s elementary schools."

The original was more accurate. The district is consolidating from eight to four (or technically, nine to four, since Dewey was closed not that long ago). It has never been eight to five unless something has changed in the last few days.
In the scheme of things, these problems are minor. The stories look great together on the page and I'm glad I was able to get it in before the votes. I certainly hope this allows people to give all of this a bit more thought and, hopefully, convince the school board to come to their senses about all of this.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me, that it's all about money, why wouldn't "your group" want to save money in the long run. Even your 2 children would benefit, it appears to me, that you are a rather depressed guy, who doesn't have the mindset to see the Big Picture.
Why don't you start getting some numbers to oppose this plan, because as of 12/22 it is going forward.
Our children in Concord, deserve to go to a school, that is not falling apart, doesn't have asbestos in the carpets and have fire doors that they can get out.
Why don't you do something construtive with your time, I am sensing that you don't have any jobs, how about applying for jobs, instead on talking to your opinion, day in and day out, no one cares.
How about working on cutting the budget, for 2010-2011? Have you done anything about that. Even, I am interested in doing that.

Tony said...

Thanks for the comments Anon9:41 and for reading.

First, it isn't just about saving money - it is about what is best. This plan isn't what is best in the long run.

The big picture is what I'm requesting - a truly comprehensive plan that addresses a long-term strategy that doesn't start from a predetermined outcome. Unfortunately, the school board started from the predetermined outcome - eight to four - and never looked back. That has been the problem for nearly 10 years. The previous studies from 2004 recommended renovating all of the schools. In other words, this could have been fixed years ago. But that wasn't the predetermined outcome. So the plan was scrapped.

As far as numbers, I do have some rough estimates which had to be cut out of the column due to length. But, I surmise about them: Going from eight to six, renovating and adding to the four can be done - or be close to done - with the current surpluses already budgeted in the tax rate ($3.2M next year, more after that, even more after that, etc.).

There is a misconception in your comment that the schools are "falling apart" ... that's just not so. Look at the consolidation overview report from September 2009. The schools are structural sound. The problems are with ADA compliance, fire codes, and some heating and utility systems which, do need repairs more often than they have been in the past. The buildings are not "falling apart."

As far as your personal comments, let me just say that I have a full-time job and freelance gigs here and there. And the only thing I am "depressed" about is the fact that so many people can be so blinded by a complete shell game of the facts around this entire issue.

Anonymous said...

he schools are structural sound. The problems are with ADA compliance, fire codes, and some heating and utility systems which, do need repairs more often than they have been in the past. The buildings are not "falling apart

How much would these cost.

Tony said...

Like I said, I don't have the exact figures. However, I'm sure it is within range of the overage change the school district will collect during the next few years. Tell the school district to get those figures from the architects. That's why they are paying them $800k, right?

Anonymous said...

It is thanks to neglect by the school board that the schools are "falling apart." It doesnt take 70 or 90 or 100mil to fix the fire doors, electric system and carpets.

How about spending some of that money for smaller classes??

Anonymous said...

I didn't live in Concord, NH for long. But, I find it strange that Betty Hoadley who was strongly advocating for new schools, is now against it, although she likes to hear herself talk. She is really to blame for the destrution of the schools.
Personally, if we are going to do it, I think we as a community need to budget more for routine maintenance so we never have this problem again.