Saturday, June 03, 2006

Campus Maintenance Should Be An Ongoing Priority

I get fired up whenever I hear about a new bond measure proposal to pay for maintenance of school buildings, whether they be K-12 or college buildings. I understand bond measures to pay for new school construction, but paying for maintenance that should have been done all along seems like more than a little poor management to me.

I live in the school district in which I teach, and currently my property tax bill reflects payment on two bonds for my district. Thanks in part to the California Teachers Association, such tax increases now require only 55% voter approval instead of the former 2/3 vote. And it frosts my hide.

My parents taught me to take care of my stuff. If only these school districts had people with the same values.

When you have a school, you're supposed to maintain it. Part of the money your district gets each year is for maintenance, and your district budget should reflect ongoing maintenance. What kind of people would allow school facilities to be run into the ground, and then go begging the taxpayer for yet another handout? Not the kind of people I vote for.

We have a new superintendent this school year. Early on he visited each of the schools to meet with the staffs, just to get a feel for the district he's leading. I outlined my situation, the paying off of two bond measures on my property taxes, and asked him point blank: What are you going to do to be a better steward of the public's money?

I liked his answer. Time will tell if he was just blowing smoke or not.


rightwingprof said...

It's worse than that here. See here.

EllenK said...

It gets into a whole arguement of haves and havenots down here. When Dallas ISD was still under court order, they were forbidden to build any schools outside of LBJ. This meant that due to the irregular district boundaries, that some K-5 students were on a bus for upwards of 40 minutes each way,every day. Of course, this led to even more white flight, creating what has become a majority/minority school district. Down the line this also means that people who have school aged children who do not attend Dallas ISD schools, don't give a flip if curriculum, personnel or facilities meet the needs of the population. This has become even more lopsided, when money was required to be funneled into magnet programs designed and built in largely poor areas of the district over areas where a few anglo kids still attended Dallas schools. The results were an even further erosion of the diversity of the district. If integration was the goal, by "punishing" schools in more affluent areas by witholding funding for adequate maintenance, they ended up pushing out the very people who could have helped support the district politically. When you look at schools in these areas, they feature hanging ceiling tiles, non-working science labs, little use of technology and overcrowding at every turn. While the district is quick to point out their stellar results at Magnet schools, the average kids of all colors are getting the shaft. I also think that this shows how administrations with a political bias can harm the very people they want to help. How offended do you think a parent of color, who worked to move to a better neighborhood and to have their child in better schools would be to find that the schools are actually sometime worse than those in poorer neighborhoods due to politically motivated neglect? Plus, there are issue with maintaining school facilities in areas where vandalism is seen as a mark of honor. So many of the schools that have been broken into and vandalized are in poorer areas. Heck, the local HeadStart program has had all of their computers and materials stolen twice. I have issues with our taxes as well. There's far too much spent on non-academic activities including athletics, administration and facilities. And due to the willy-nilly nature of site based management, schools can do almost anything they want, regardless of whether it makes sense or not.