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new downtown school

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#1 Not Super But Honest Mike

Not Super But Honest Mike

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 12:36 PM

In another forum I was asked to state my opinion on the new downtown school. I will try to make this short and sum it up as not needed. I would rather see maple school expanded and renovated than a new school built 5 blocks away. New buildings does not make the quality of education higher. If the school board wanted....our opinions.....on new vs renovations, they shout put it on the ballot and allow the citizens to decide what is best. But I think we all know what the answer would be.....
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#2 IntegrityMatters


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Posted 05 January 2018 - 01:53 PM

We  ALL care about kids.   We ALL want is best for children.  We ALL would like to see a school remain open in downtown.  But like Mike said above, there are already two schools in downtown and one or the other could easily be renovated and remain open to accommodate the downtown children IF (and that's a big "if") Melin and the Mayor wanted it.   But they would rather close both schools and spend $15 million of our tax dollars on a brand new state-of-the-art school at Court & Meigs where there will be no green space for children to play and limited parking -- besides being next to the jail!   Sometimes I really wonder about the wisdom of our "educated" administrators.   Where is the common sense?
I posted the following on another site.  Hope those interested will take time to read it.   It tells the WHOLE story -- not just what the school district wants you to believe.


The Greater Clark school board seems to have forgotten that we, the taxpayers, overwhelmingly voted against a $109 million referendum in November, 2015.
Since that time, the school district has continued to issue bond after bond and slowly raise the debt that we, the people, will have to pay through higher property taxes.
Are taxpayers against children? Absolutely not. Do we want children to be safe and have a good school environment? Of course, we do.

But we all realize that we do not have unlimited resources and it is imperative for people and school districts to learn to live within their means. Of course, it is easy to build when you just need 4 people to raise their hands and spend other people’s money. But the Board was elected by the people to not only look out for the children but to look out for those who voted them into office. This wasteful spending must stop.


In 2015, the Greater Clark County school board voted to spend $4.5 million on a radio/tv program. They said that they had to do it immediately as an “extraordinary emergency” existed! They just couldn’t wait! Did anyone ever wonder what actually happened to that $4.5 million that we, the taxpayers, gave the school district? The Board signed a resolution to issue $4.5 million in bonds and said that “no one project would exceed $2 million”. Why did they say that? Because the law says that any project that exceeds $2 million must go through the Petition and Remonstrance process. If it is less than $2 million, the Board just has to raise their hands and ‘poof’ it’s a done deal.


The Board resolution said that $2 million would be used for the JHS radio project; $1.8 million for CHS and $700,000 for New Washington. But what really happened? Do you know?

An analysis of the bond monies spent shows that over $2.6 million was spent at JHS; $1.5 million at CHS and just $251,000 at NWHS. Plus the school district spent $189,000 of the bond funds to build a baseball facility at New Washington!


How can they get away with spending money in ways other than what they told the property owners who are paying for it?


Easy --- they count on none of us following up on what they are doing. They count on us to passively agree to what they propose. They count on us believing the beautiful Power Point presentations that they show at their board meetings as being accurate. But they are not. They look nice and they look believable. But looks can be deceiving – and the presentations you see at board meetings are certainly that. Expect to see another one at their January meeting regarding the proposed new downtown school.

In June 2016, the board approved another $8.2 million bond issue that was supposedly comprised of several “projects” that were under $2 million each. How was this $8.2 million actually spent? Do you know? Did anyone follow up? Was any presentation made at a board meeting in the past few months showing exactly how it has been spent and how much is remaining? Of course not! They don’t want you to know how the money was actually spent. It definitely has NOT been spent according to the beautiful Power Point presentation that was made at the board meeting when the board members raised their hands and voted yes! One of the projects that was part of the $8.2 million bond issue was the renovation of the JHS auditorium. It was supposed to cost $800,000. But so far it has cost over $1.5 million. Other projects are out of sync as well. Plus a $170,524 payment was made out of the bond monies to the Greater Clark general fund supposedly to reimburse the general fund for monies that was paid related to the bond projects. But if you look at the invoices for the $170,524, there are a lot of invoices that have absolutely nothing to do with the bond projects.


This past spring, the school district proposed $22 million in bonds for River Valley, Charlestown Middle School and Northaven to “enclose the open concepts”. These projects went through the Petition and Remonstrance process and the school district (with all their employees!) collected more signatures in order to push forward with these bonds. What they didn’t tell us though was that classrooms were being added to Northaven with part of this money in order to accommodate the students from Spring Hill elementary when the board would vote to close that school. They did not want the people to know that until AFTER they had succeeded in getting the bonds through the process.


Then in November of this year, they issued another $2.3 million in bonds --- $985,000 for the Fetter Center (the old Clark County auction property); another $445,000 for JHS; $235,000 for Thomas Jefferson; another $500,000 for the Marshall Center (bringing its total to approx. $1 million) and $130,000 for the Administration building. Note that the $985,000 for the Fetter Center is supposedly only for the “interior” --- they need another $1 million or more for the exterior, but that will come with another bond issue probably in 2018.

Now the school district wants to work with the Mayor to keep a downtown school. Again, it does not appear that they are considering the taxpayer at all. They are proposing a brand new “state of the art” building at the corner of Court & Meigs (next to the jail) for the new school. They say it will cost “under $15 million”. Why $15 million do you ask? Because if the project costs more than $15 million, they would be required to take it to the voters in a referendum. The district does NOT want to do the right thing and let the taxpayers decide. They want to bypass the taxpayers. Therefore, they MUST keep it under $15 million. It will, however, be required to go through the Petition and Remonstrance process IF at least 500 voters/taxpayers sign a petition requiring that it do so within 30 days after the Board votes to move forward with the bond issue.


But the school district believes that they were successful in getting $22 million from us a few months ago, so they think they can probably get another $15 million with no problem. If they are successful, then the total bonds they will have issued since 2015 will be approximately $52 million --- almost half what they wanted in the referendum that 75% of us said NO to.

We were told that if we didn’t vote for the $22 million to supposedly enclose the open concept schools that we did not care about kid’s safety! Now we will be told that if we vote no to the new downtown school, we don’t care about kids and want them to be bussed!


This is hogwash. Why? Because what they are not telling us is that the proposed $15 million is not the end. They will continue to issue more and more bonds in 2018 and 2019 until they get more and more of our money. There has already been talk about closing Thomas Jefferson and Wilson and building another new school. They want millions for a new bus depot; a new school in Charlestown and renovations to several other schools. They have also already spent over $500,000 to buy several houses near Charlestown High school which they tore down. What are they planning to build there and how many more millions will it take?


Our property tax dollars will pay for all of this. The New Washington farmers will be on the hook for a great deal of this and yet New Washington only got $250,000 for their radio program and a $189,000 baseball field thrown in for good measure. Plus there are rumors that the administration wants to close the New Washington elementary and make the high school building K-8 and then bus the high school students to Charlestown. The people/farmers of New Washington are being taken to the cleaners with all of this but no one on the board seems to care – not even the New Washington board representative.


In 2018 the school board can spend up to $5 million on a single project just by raising their hands. If they really are serious about keeping a school in the downtown area, then the logical thing to do would be to renovate either Spring Hill or Maple for $5 million or less and keep one of those schools open. But that would take common sense which seems to be sorely lacking with this administration and Board. Renovate either Maple or Spring Hill --- spend under $5 million ---- keep a downtown school --- avoid a Petition and Remonstrance --- avoid further dividing the community --- be fiscally responsible. And tell the taxpayers the truth about ALL projects planned for 2018 and beyond. Do the right thing and go back to the people who must pay for it and hold a referendum. This nonsense of issuing bond after bond and avoiding the people is just plain wrong.


We ALL care about the kids. But just like every family cannot afford a $500,000 home; every school district must live within their means as well. Buildings do not educate our children – teachers do. And Dr. Melin has stated that he plans to cut teachers next year through attrition. But that means that there will be less teachers for approximately the same number of students. Is this wise? Beautiful new state of the art buildings might be nice, but if you have to put 35 to 40 students in a classroom because you can’t afford teachers, then have you really accomplished anything?


Alice Butler


Edited by IntegrityMatters, 05 January 2018 - 02:34 PM.

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