Is that all there is?
Yesterday—the Thursday afternoon before Election Day—our school district released a “City High 6 Year Preview” that was plainly designed to influence the election.
It’s been over two years since the board voted to close Hoover. During that time, people have repeatedly asked the board for a better explanation of why Hoover should be closed and why we can’t achieve our facilities goals without a closing a school. Just this summer, the board asked the administration for a better explanation of how the Hoover land would be used, and the administration replied that it would take $400,000 to answer that question. All of the board candidates have had to take stands on the issue, which has become one of the most discussed issues in the election. Now, just five days before the election, the district releases a “Preview” of its plans for City High (which apparently didn’t cost $400,000 after all).
The timing of the Preview raises real questions about the district’s use of public resources to sway an election, and sends the message that the district will communicate only when it is suddenly worried about an election outcome.
Most importantly, the Preview does not provide a convincing rationale for closing Hoover. The Preview states that parking, outdoor athletic facilities, and green space are likely to be displaced by the City High addition, and simply asserts that if they are displaced, there will be “reduced access for all students” and “reduced engagement by students with additional barriers to participation.” The Preview does not attempt to quantify the amount of land that will be required for the addition—which is likely to be very small compared to the Hoover property—or explain why the necessary facilities cannot be accommodated without closing the school. In other words, the Preview adds little to the arguments that we’ve heard all along for why Hoover must be closed, which ultimately come down to “Because the superintendent says so—and please don’t look behind that assertion.”
To make matters worse, the Preview includes an “operational cost comparison” between medium- and large-sized schools that cannot withstand even brief scrutiny. Michael Tilley’s post here shows how the generic costs in the chart bear no resemblance to Hoover’s actual costs—and, if they’re accurate, demonstrate that Hoover is not only more efficient than the “medium” school, but even more efficient than the “large” school!
We need board members who will scrutinize the information supplied by the administration, rather than simply accept whatever assertions the administration provides. Please consider voting for Phil Hemingway, Brian Richman, Tom Yates, and Chris Liebig this Tuesday, September 8.