“What do you know about building a new school?” ~Interview question posed to Mr. Larry Malone when he was a candidate for his current position. …also the sound of the school closure train leaving the station…
View “Scenario #2, as well as other Visions of the Futures Task Force, here:
The second option on the table for the Futures Task Force is “..building a new, PK-12 structure and ‘decommissioning’ all current school facilities in the RSU..” apparently “received a very strong endorsement from the FTF membership”.
Of course, as usual, no supporting research was offered.
The “benefits” they cite are listed below, contrasted with what the research actually says:
~”site neutrality” : According to the research, this will not look like any sort of advantage, come budget time. Research highlights the increased difficulty in raising funds where communitie’s sense of ownership is diminished by both size and distance.
~”coordination of services” : This may help you fill you buzzword bingo card, but beyond that…. “coordinating” children from a 400+ square mile district under one roof is an anathema to efficiency and convenience.
Since I became involved in school issues, I’ve been struck by the adult-centered mindset. In conversation with a Board member, for example, a brief mention of an AOS model of governance, was met with, “Oh! For a Superintendent that’s….!” “…a pain in the butt..?” I finished. “I know”. Why was “Superintendent convenience” foremost in his mind? What about kids and taxpayers? The closer decision makers are to kids, the more sense decisions make to them, their parents and communities. Our readers have been very clear about who comes first in THEIR minds.
~”educational opportunities and staffing” : Research shows that that bigger is not better; larger schools do not necessarily offer more, and face diminished participation due to distance and more competition for available spots on sports teams, in plays and in classes.
~”creation of a new multi-community asset” : To which communities does this new “asset” belong? Not to all of those that must pay for it, certainly, as distance undermines access a great deal. Children are not regional units.
~”efficiencies that accompany a regional location” : What is more inefficient, and archaic, from the standpoint of children and taxpayers than bussing long distances every day, that thwarts achievement and diminishes participation. Research shows that these “regional” schools do not accomplish more, even in cases where they do offer more choices (which is not a given). Participation rates clearly fall. Yes, it is convenient, though certainly not more “efficient” for a Superintendent to have all his or her charges under one roof, but at what cost?
A regional perspective; assets that belong to everyone and no one; presents just one of many stark differences between the way children grow and learn, and the way people think. Buildings don’t educate children, people do. Parents who have seen their children go without will want to know why there is money for new construction but none for their kids….
Good luck with that.