"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 24, 2011 Committee Meetings Agenda

Click on the post to view the agenda for the January 24th 2011 Committee Meetings of the Whole at 5:30 pm in the District Board and Training Center. I hope to stay for the budget discussion before scooting off the the financial aid program at the High School. Our oldest "baby" goes to college in 2012 and I want to get an early view of our options beyond praying for a really big scholarship. 4K is on the docket for further discussion and recommendation for or against further study. Stay tuned. It's important for everyone to remember that the current 4K discussion was driven by the community not the district. Everyone knows the difficult budget situation government agencies have faced over the last 3 years. I predict the Finance Committee will recommend that the board form an ad-hoc committee to revisit the question and nothing further at this time.

There are a number of other interesting topics for discussion in the Finance committee including an update on the building and trades house with the Realtor Lori Allen, program based budgeting update, a staff resignation, a Chamber presentation and future land purchase. The last will probably include an update on cost and timing of a new population study to better project enrollment figures for the next five years. This is a good approach to this sticky question. I know it gets everyones knickers in a knot when the district even mentions land purchase, like they're going to try to build another school right away or something. But bear in mind that the land the HS was built on in 2002 was purchased in 1960 at bargain prices, especially compared to 2000 land values. This enabled a huge cost savings to the district when the HS was built and allowed a more centralized school arrangement. This may or may not be important to residents in some future building phase, but was considered a critical factor when the HS was built, I believe. The close proximity of all of the schools allows a synergy of facility sharing amongst buildings that would otherwise be challenging if the campuses were far flung from one another. Athletes, scholars, mentors, sharing of the PAC all is facilitated by the centralized design.

If Evansville ever grows to where more than one set of schools is needed, there will be numerous philosophical questions to be addressed. My little hometown of Adrian, MI had only one MS and one HS when I was a kid. Shortly after I graduated, another MS was opened in the more well to do section of town. This automatically set up a "Haves and Have nots" mentality. This was moderated by repurposing one school to grades 5-6 and the other to grades 7-8. All the kids now went to the same schools. At MS ages, this is probably a very good way to expose previously sheltered students to a more diverse population. It helps with the cliques, but does not eliminate them, of course. Just one of many approaches to a prickly problem.

Evansville was on the verge of huge growth just prior to the economic implosion. It's within the realm of possibilities that growth could return. How the government entities manage this growth will be important. Thinking about it now for that eventuality is a good exercise. Whether or not Evansville remains attractive to new families with an enormous tax burden also needs to be evaluated by the board and given some serious soul searching by the district administration.


Cathy Smith said...

I'm not expert on land values, but I can share why we moved here and stayed, as well as my thoughts on the centralized school layout.
We moved here in 2000- right before the housing bubble inflated- for two main reasons. One, real estate prices were affordable. For the rent we were paying in madison we could afford a huge victorian house in Evansville with half the cost in property taxes. Two, we could jump right on 14 and shoot up to Madison where there are more jobs with higher pay and good benefits. Now, this has cost us a bit in gas, and yes our taxes took a jump, but all you have to do is hop over the county line to see how much cheaper things are in Evansville. I am still happy to be here. My parents live in West Bend and I saw their tax bill- $6000. Six grand just to have the privilege of owning their land. Yipes.
It is an unhappy juxtaposition that the higher taxes have come at a time of lowered values, yes. But the jump is not due to property appraisals but the school district cost.
Now, on the centralized school layout- I agree that a centralized campus can work quite well for a city. My hometown, West Bend, has its two Level A schools right next to each other. Mirror images. However, I do have a major beef with the layout of the access to the school. I don;t like the one-way access to the Elementary school- it is only a matter of time before someone gets hit in that circle drive. People park there, yap on their cell phones there, and I have seen road rage that is too ugly to take place in a school parking lot. There is no good way to drop kids off and pick them up. If we are going to expand our campus there- and I think we should- we need better traffic patterns.

Katy said...

The traffic problem at the elementary school is on the radar. The morning bus routes in town are designed as a lower cost solution until the next building phase. Many suggestions have been made, including continuing third street to Fair Street to avoid the traffic circle hell. This is a great idea but very expensive. It will be easier to build traffic control into a new school design than to retro-engineer to the old schools.