Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sign the Blue Petition

I ask that all homeowners living in the FWCS district to sign the blue petition. I graduated from South Side High School ten years ago. The school building was perfectly suited for the education process back then. The only thing that has changed is the need for Internet access. Superintendent Wendy Robinson wants to buy a bunch of expensive upgrades when all that is needed is regular maintenance.
Here's the link for Code Blue Schools.

27 comments:

Paul Spoelhof said...

If you graduated in '97, you spent most of your high school experience enjoying the necessary improvements to classrooms and infrastructure that were started in 1994. The fact that South Side High was "perfectly suited for the education process" is a stunning endorsement for the proposed investments in FWCS Schools. Southside was perfectly suited because of the investment.

For the record, the investments proposed in the comprehensive capital improvement program are quite similar to those made to South Side ten years ago; larger classrooms, restored pluming heating and electrical systems. The exception is that the current plan is focused on educational space, safety and energy efficiency; with little or no spending on atheltic facilities.

I am confident that many libertarians together with their democrat and republican friends can and will embrace the profoundly responsible case for providing an inventory of quality school buildings within which to teach any child of the FWCS district. The case is made best at writeyellowrightnow.com

Jeff Pruitt said...

Oh please.

I wish somebody from the yellow side would justify the following:

The company that was hired to identify the items to be fixed is the same company that will be overseeing the fixes and thus will get a percentage of the project.

THAT is an outrage and is the antithesis of fiscal responsibility. Adding 2nd elevators? Those on the Blue side have no problem with upgrading the necessary infrastructure but the claim that it will cost $500 Million to do so is completely bogus.

Robert Enders said...

I do remember the renovation, Paul. Prior to the renovation, there weren't even doors on the bathroom stalls in some restrooms. Most classrooms were not equipped with a pencil sharpener. And the building contained a lot of asbestos.
Some improvements were needed, others were frivilous. You and I both seem to agree that there shouldn't be as much emphasis on athletics. Contractors were brought in to put up wallpaper and trim throughout the school. While it did make the school look nice, wouldn't it have been cheaper and more asthetically pleasing to have the art classes paint a mural on the walls?

"Southside was perfectly suited because of the investment" And it still is. So there is no need to repeat the effort.

"The exception is that the current plan is focused on educational space, safety and energy efficiency..." Energy efficiency is only important if the money saved by the new equipment is more than the cost of buying it. If space is an issue, use the money to build more schools. And the biggest safety issue in recent years was the student who drowned in South Side's pool. That issue has been addressed to everyone's satisfaction with the installation of cameras.

Paul Spoelhof said...

Jeff, nobody from the blue or yellow side can explain a fabrication of fact. I can tell you with confidence that a contract for construction oversight has not been awarded to any company let alone a company that has participated in helping the FWCS define physical needs of the buildings.

The contract has not been defined let alone awarded; it can not be awarded prior to having the green light to repair the schools, which as you may know will happen when the Allen County Auditor validates that there are more signatures on yellow pettitions than on blue ones.

I would go out on a limb and predict that the contract for construction oversight will not go to the company you refer to, but it is not clear to me what company that is.

If back-up elevators constitute a good reason to throw away an overdue capital improvement program, so be it. But don't use lies about contract awards to defend your position.

Kody Tinnel said...

I just graduated from South Side this past year.

As a more recent student I can say that my academnic achievements were not caused by really nice buildings. As long as I had the basic needs to help my education progress I was fine. I don't see why we need to put so much money into the schools. Yes education is important, but so is fiscal responsibility.

There are many other aspects that affect how well children are doing in school. In my opinion the education systems around the nation need massive reforms. The current system does not make sense and so many young people are being forced to do things that may not be beneficial to them.

jon said...

Two issues here..

First, Paul himself admits that South Side High school was and is "perfectly suited for the education process", however, one of the original plans put forth by the administration and Schmidt and Associates (the consultant) included an additional 30 million dollar renovation of South Side. Granted the yellow ribbon task force did not pick that option, but if South Side was "perfectly suited for the education process" why was it even in question? If the administration and consultants are willing to waste 30 million on a building that was renovated less than ten years what other parts of this project are equally wasteful?

Second, Paul is correct that there has been no contract for the management of the project; however, the language of the consulting contract entered into with Schmidt and Associates over a year ago states that, although they can not bid on architectural work within the project, they can receive the contract for management of the project. According to state law a consulting contract such as this does not require a bid. Although I can not speak for the board I do believe it was and is the intent of Schmidt and Associates and the FWCS administration to award Schmidt and Associates the contract for construction management. This may prove politically difficult as there are at least two very good firms in Fort Wayne (Hagerman and Construction Controls Inc.) that would like the contract and are experienced enough with projects of this size.

jon said...

BTW it is not enough to just sign the petition, pick up your own and carry it to your neighbors.

Robert Enders said...

I'll bring a blue petition packet to this month's LPAC meeting.

I even got a yard sign.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Paul,

Typical half-truths from the yellow side. Notice I didn't say that the contract was awarded but of course you don't mention that in your rant to smear me as a liar. Perhaps you should do some research before you insult people in a public forum - otherwise you can end up looking quite silly.

I'm glad Jon stopped by to set the record straight.

By the way, as Chair of the Yellow Ribbon Task force, could you provide us with the economic impact study you used to determine that city businesses and residents could afford your massive tax increase?

Nevermind, I think we all know it doesn't exist...

Rachel said...

I'm signing and carrying a yellow petition because I believe this is the best deal the taxpayers of FWCS are going to get.

Unlike Harrison Square, this project will not away if it is not approved. Either it will come back at a lower price tag with fewer improvements or the schools receive the same improvements but it will cost more.

And remember, if and when it comes back in a year or so, registered voters, not exclusively property owners, will be eligible to sign. With the number of renters in FWCS with children, it will be likely to pass.

bobett said...

rachel,

Remember you and your children will be paying for the bricks and motar, there's no upgrade on the education.

Dave MacDonald said...

I've signed (and am carrying) the blue petition. I'm NOT against capital improvements for FWCS. I value the role of public education and graduated from a FWC school myself.

For the record, my wife and I homeschool our children. I'm not against paying property taxes to support public education. Even though we receive no personal benefit for this expense, collectively we must sacrifice some personal gain for the good of society. However, I will not stand idle when I feel MY money is not being spent wisely by those entrusted with this fiduciary duty.

I believe the school board must sharpen its collective pencil for the following reasons:

1.) Why $500M? Why not $499M or $501M? Because this rounded figure is the most the public will accept? The amount would be more convincing if the figure were "believable" in real number terms. $1M here or there conveys the impression that there's considerable discretion involved. Given the Board's track record in allowing such maintenance issues to grow to the desperation point, I'm left feeling that pecuniary stewardship has not been a priority. I certainly don't feel comfortable allowing them a blank check, or millions in discretionary funding.

2.) Substantial capital improvements for North and South Side have yielded little to no measurable benefits (to date) for those students. They remain schools on "probation." Was this money well spent? Would $1M more or less really have made any difference?

3.) The political climate in Fort Wayne has become hostile to implementing the will of the people. The school board race last season reeked of nepotism. If I remember correctly, candidates who were inclined to vote favorably for the project were blessed with the endorsements of the union and FWCS. The current mayoral race and recent actions by City Council are a continuation of this Tyranny of the Few over the objections of the many. We the people have grown tired of empty promises and electing those who won't respect our views.

How much funding would I approve? $157M? $294M? More? Less? Show me that the money will be spent well by Good Stewards and I'll give you my reply.

I understand and respect Rachel's perspective. If all registered voters including renters choose to adopt the project, so be it. At least the people will have spoken, and the project may proceed with their blessing.

Rachel said...

FWCS is the best performing urban district in the state. Unfortunately it goes head to head with SACS and NACS when test scores are released. Suburban and urban populations have very different profiles. When you compare FWCS test scores to IPS, Evansville, SB, Gary, etc., our students are doing well.

Facilities and academics are two separate issues in this debate. We have muddied the waters by combining them.

Robert Enders said...

People on both sides of this debate have insisted either that the schools are failing or that the schools are succeeding in order to prove a point. But the debate should not be about how the schools are doing now but whether or not the educational process will be significantly helped by the proposed upgrades. A well maintained school is all that a motivated student needs for the learning process to take place. There is no need to expand or upgrade the buildings if FWCS is going to demolish several schools.

I've noticed that this debate has sparked a lot of people's interest, and that is good. Whichever side of the debate you are on, getting personally involved in your children's education will have a greater impact than any building upgrade.

Marvin said...

Gotta love education!

One question that arises is this: Will there be a need for school buildings in 20 years?

With the advent of the world wide web a few years ago there has arisen a new education environment - remote classrooms. An on-line academy was prohibited from receiving state funds this year. Why you ask? Because the public education industry is huge and has great influence in this state thus they stopped this perceived threat to their controlled environment - school systems that have brick and mortar. Thus the answer to the question is definitely NO for the short-term.

But what about the long-term you ask? The federal "Leave No Child Behind" law was enacted because federal legislative office holders were incensed by the arrogance of the public education system and their inability to compete in the global arena with adequate results. We are now several years into a 12-year impossible challenge for change to public schools by the federal government. In the next three years nearly every school system in the country will be labeled as failures. It is at this point that the public education industry will win the next round of the battle to force meaningful restructure. Three years is still the short-term.

Are parochial schools the answer? No. Parochial schools are now pretty much controlled by the government. The basic differences between public school systems and parochial school systems are some scripture oriented teaching and the source of most funding.

Is home schooling the answer? Home schooling got a start some 30-40 years ago and was fought by the public school systems. If there is a massive shift toward home schooling today then I believe state requirements will be dictated such that a teacher's license will be required to teach home-schooled children. The education industry would win this battle also.

People really don't want federal or state government interference with their local school systems. These systems are their community centers or their baby-sitters (somewhere that they can leave their kids while they go to work). They are currently part of the fabric woven into their lives.

What then is the answer? How will this imperical system of public education ever change? It will happen when the mass of people become tired enough with the system that they force the industry to change. Federal government may eventually go postal. By that statement I mean that the federal government may make school systems pseudo-government organizations like the US Post Office, thus opening the door for real competition.

The bottom line is this: As long as public school systems (and other government owned buildings as well) are owned by government there will be no need, as perceived by "them", for them to change. I don't believe public education will remain completely government owned but I also don't believe this will occur in the short-term.

Build your buildings (schools, Harrison Square, et. al.) if you must. Tax your parents and your children until it really hurts. The hearts of Americans must change in order to change America.

America Bless God - God Bless America,
Marvin Hoot

Marvin said...

NO meaning no need to change.

Anonymous said...

Rachel - Can you share with us the data source for your contention that FWCS test scores are above Indy, Gary, et al? Our are you just guessing? John B. Kalb

Dave MacDonald said...

John-

Here are the 2006 ISTEP Scores by school:

http://www.doe.in.gov/istep/2006/welcome.html

I couldn't find the specific comparision between districts but it's probably in there somewhere.

jon said...

Although it is true that FWCS beats Indy (IPS), Gary, and Southbend, we do not beat Evansville. From a competitive standpoint, however, FWCS does not compete with Indy, Gary, Southbend or Evansville. We compete with EACS, SWACS, and NWACS. People looking for a "good" school system do not look at how pretty the building is, but at standardized test scores. Educators do not like it, but like it or not someone moving to Allen County will see FWCS trailing their suburban counterparts and locate accordingly. Yes we are an urban district, but the reality of our position and that of NCLB makes it an irrelevant excuse and we must compete with other Allen County School Systems.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Jon,

That's exactly what I told Kathy Friend yesterday. I also added that raising taxes like this will make it more likely that people deciding which district to move to will not choose FWCS.

And if this causes more and more people to leave the district then it will continue to cost the taxpayers that stay more and more. I honestly don't think they have even considered that...

Anonymous said...

For insight in why FWCS tops Indianapolis Public Schools....

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070609/SPECIAL10/70609003.

This article about Jeffrey White and John Marshall Middle School would make anyone think twice about sending your child(ren) to a urban school. IMO, I believe that JMS is not to much different than FWCS Alternative School.

Robert Enders said...

Urban schools face challenges that suburban schools do not. They tend to have more students that come from lower income families and more ESL students. This isn't to say that poor people and immigrants are dumb. It's just that it is harder to do well in school if you do not have reference books or a computer in your home. And it is hard to do well in school if you do not speak the language.

Some will say that because these schools do not perform well they deserve as much money as the schools that perform well. Others will insist that these schools need more money because they aren't performing as well. While it would be very unfair if urban schools did not get the same kind of funding as suburban schools, at the same time economic hardships and language barriers won't be solved by throwing money at the problem.

B.G. ((Semper Paratus)) said...

I'm certainly not going to toss good money after bad (in this case)....I'm signing BLUE (and I know some teachers for FWCS doing likewise).

It's not that we want to STOP school repairs...quite the reverse. What we DO need is more accountablity for all the money being used thusfar...and that $500 MILLION is one damn HUGE pill to swallow.

B.G.

Your house should work said...

code blue please send a list of people who are willing to use there house for Franke Parks 3rd grade class next year. But I would guess you would rather these children have there classes in a mobile home. Which is what is going to happen. There is no room for 3rd grade they will have one or two mobile homes on site for 3rd grade.

So if you vote blue, and we get more academics, where are going to teach outside?

I'm not sure if you noticed but Ft. wayne is growing and growing fast.

So I leave this to you code blue. If you don't want buildings then you as a group can provide these children with a safe place to learn.

Anonymous said...

Why do I see code blue signs in front of condemned housing on broadway?

No wonder they dont want to spend money to fix buildings.

Welcome to Fort Waste land of slum lords and used car salesmen

Robert Enders said...

This is a game that I see played on this blog over and over again. People take the behaivor of a few individuals who support a cause and say that it represents the character of everyone else who has taken a similiar position. We'll see a LOT of this next year, when you see people posting on their own blogs items like "Someone with a Obama/Clinton bumper sticker cut me off in traffic!" or "A guy in a station wagon with a Paul/Romney sticker gave me the finger! The fact that one of his millions of supporter showed me that obscene gesture reflects poorly on his ability to determine foriegn policy!"

jon said...

“Your House Should work” should find out a few facts before posting.

1. The “Mobile Homes" being purchased and sent to Franke Park are neither mobile or homes. They are modular classrooms and provide safe and suitable classroom space for a school that simply does not have extra space for all day kindergarten.

2. If Write Yellow, Right Now wins and the bond is approved. The children at Franke Park will still go to school in Modular Classrooms next year. In fact it is likely that there will be kids going to school in "Mods” for 4-6 years in the future because, unlike Your House Should Work, the FWCS administration does not see Franke Park as a priority and has scheduled the Franke Park renovation at the very end of the bonding process (2010 or 2011 I think).

3. Fort Wayne is only growing fast because the City is Annexing the County. Of course this has little relevance as FWCS is not part of Fort Wayne City Government and the population of the FWCS district has had no relevant increase in 30 years.

I understand this is an emotional issue, but it's always nice to try to look at facts even though on the yellow side they are not really called for.