It takes a strong floor to have a levy meeting in the Opera House. It was hard to move around without touching up to an elephant. (Elephant in the room--is a term of art indicating that the group is tap dancing around the real issue--i.e. elephant.)
I thought I might list the elephants that I observed:
Transportation in the future to and from the high school. This elephant made its debut with a question by Allen Johnson, public citizen. Now Allen and I are seldom on the same page. If he is pro, I am con and vice versa. So I was intrigued by the forceful effort Allen has made to fight this levy. WE ARE ON THE SAME PAGE!! So what kind of an elephant would put us together on the same side in the public arena.
Will this school plan involve more transportation time for our children?
That's a good question and you would have thought that the SBA man was a student of the Fred Astaire school of dancing. I could have closed my eyes and watch Sammy David, Jr. giving a tap dance.
Allen led off with the question! He didn't get a good answer. So I decided to weigh in on the matter. I got cut off four times by the SBA man. By the 4th time I admit that I was hot. But it wasn't enough to get an answer to Allen's good question.
I heard something like an answer: Pocahontas is a beautiful place. This new high school and levy plan won't actually fix the transportation problem in our county where some children spend hours on the bus. This brilliantly developed plan actually increase the travel time. I was told that there have to be some "sacrifices" made for "better" schools. I would just have to "suffer" through the problem.
Suffering and sacrifice and not two words I like to tie together for the education of the children.
SO NO ANSWER THEIR EXCEPT THAT MORE TIME ON A BUS IS A REASONABLE SACRIFICE TO MAKE!
The maintenance problem. Now that is a good one! It deserves to be discussed and included in the plan. We are told that our buildings are falling down, there is mold in the walls, and the electrical sockets have mud in them. I have no quarrel with that. My wife spend the majority of her teaching career in MES and there were few people concerned during that time.
WHY IS IT THAT NO ONE GETS CONCERNED OVER THESE THINGS UNTIL THEY WANT A NEW BUILDING?
This leads me to consider a big corundum: How did the buildings get to be in this bad condition? One maintenance man even echoed horror stories of how many MES was. Yet that didn't stop him from a career maintaining that same building. Now that he is retired he suddenly is pro-levy!!!
We have heard for quite some time that the school board doesn't have enough money to maintain the buildings properly. Now we hear from the SBA that it will likely cost MORE TO MAINTAIN THE NEW BUILDINGS. Boy, I don't want that elephant stepping on my foot.
Where's the money coming from? All we have is what we got!!! Well, where did the money go and why did the school board let the buildings fall down before they chose to have a levy to fix them up? (Caveat: this is an elephant in the room but She is a figment of the imagination. se doesn't really exist. I have been all over this county and I have yet to see one single building 'FALLING DOWN." (The problem here is to get people to vote for a levy you must create a "structural crisis."
But there is a problem even there. You have to blame the board for not budgeting enough maintenance money. It's real hard to say that your maintenance staff has been chewing the fat for all the years and have neglected their respective buildings. ( I can assure you that this is not true. Many of my closest friends have been in maintenance.) But you are faced with a need to blame something or someone: either money or staff. It usually comes down to staff.
The next elephant is how did new buildings so easily became old, run-down derelicts that require a generous portion of the citizen's tax dollar. So the board gets some yahoo to claim that a building built a few short years ago and that it is unhealthy to use. Hence, words like mold, mud, and electricity come into play to justify this elephant.
But if it is unhealthy enough now not to be used why is it still being used. Likewise, the last flood was the flood of 96, a bad one but not as bad as 85. Why has the board allowed kids from kindergarten to fifth grade use a building that is full of mold. Why some of this mold would be old enough to have a long bear and be on medicare. My kids went through that building. They are alive and well! I KNOW WHEN THE LAST FLOODS WERE! Maybe the superintendent should have asked an old residenter about the floods. Anyone over 30 can tell you!!!!
Why did this JUST NOW BECOME A PROBLEM? Could it be that someone caught an odor of free money? Perhaps! This money the state is offering is not exacting free money!!! It comes with an annual inspection for eternity. Actually the SBA guy didn't use the word "eternity." He just said that the SBA would have control "forever." Last time I looked at a dictionary I am reminded that they are the same thing. THE SBA WILL BE DICTATING TO POCAHONTAS FOR ETERNITY.
So somewhere down the road we end up with buildings that are "still" too costly to maintain. Remember, the state is no saying that they will pay for future maintenance cost just that they will building new buildings that "may" be less expensive. If they aren't the state provides only money for new buildings! So where does the money come from? This elephant just well got be a mandatory levy that you DON'T GET TO VOTE ON. The state decides that you need a new sewer system or a new air conditioning system so they "order" you to put one in. You see, you paid for this devil on your back when you passed this levy. He has come home to stay, he is moving into your spare room and you will continue to feed him forever.
In the old days, if the king didn't like you he would donate an elephant to you. You were required to care for him and feed him whether you needed an elephant or not. They called this "a white elephant." It means that you have dome that is totally worthless to you but you still have to feed him. This was the king's way of revenge.
So the best thing you can do is vote no on the levy.