As I watched the school board meeting blast night I was reminded of the often used idiom about the trees getting in the way of the forest. Readers of this blog will recall that I, and many others, opposed the 12th high school. We opposed the school for multiple reasons, which we painfully and carefully explained in detail here, in letters to the editor of local newspapers, and in public comments to the school board.
Our reasons included:
- that the school’s only street access will be from a highway;
- that the school bumps against an active dump that spews highly flammable methane gas;
- that lacrosse fields located adjacent to what will be the school’s PE fields have had to close due to heath concerns resulting for decomposing partially digested mice and rats pulled from the dump by birds and contamination from airborne bird feces;
- that the school is no where near the population centers in the county or the schools that are overcrowded by in area enrollment;
- that the school will be yet another 100% bus school;
- that the school included
a pooltwo pools that weren’t disclosed anywhere in the CIP or PWCS web site until a few months before the project was set to go out to bid, and then, only when private citizens disclosed their existence in comments to the school board, and;
- that the school included a black box theater and orchestra lift which weren’t disclosed by PWCS to the public or school board until just before the bids were awarded.
This project was shrouded in secrecy by PWCS from the beginning, perhaps deliberately.
Last night it became evident that several school board members weren’t paying attention during the debate over the 12th high school and clearly have no idea why people were opposed the 12th high school.
Just a reminder for those school board members – you’re reviewing the designs for the 13th high school, now, because the school division misled the public and the school board about what was included in the 12th high school. That debacle resulted in the quagmire of mistrust in which you presently find yourselves.
The opposition to the 12th high school wasn’t about whether it should have used the less expensive Battlefield / Freedom design or the more expensive Patriot design. It was about all the stuff that was included in the 12th high school that no one in the school division wanted to admit was there until they were forced to do so.
While $18 million may seem like a drop in the bucket, it’s roughly the cost of a 10 room addition. PWCS could have built Patriot with the Battlefield / Freedom design AND put an addition on Brentsville that would have provided enough seats that Patriot and Battlefield wouldn’t be looking at being more than 30% overcapacity in the next school year. With that in place, PWCS might have been able to delay the 12th high school a few years and put that money into renovating the older high schools in the county so that they’re more in line with 21st Century learning strategies.
One more thing.
I recognize that some school board members are playing political games with their comments that are dripping with derision and contempt. I find that attitude unacceptable from an individual elected to stand for and advocate on behalf of our children. Our citizens and children deserve better than that. School board members who find themselves incapable of avoiding such games ought to resign so that candidates who are worthy of our children can be elected to fill their places.