Are these people that tone-deaf? Yes, they are, the Board included.
What has got me riled up? Going to the Operations Committee meeting today. They had been scheduled to talk about BEX IV but alas, that was put off. I could go into the other items discussed (before I left early because I was so irritated) but they're not that important.
Here's what just blew me away: they want to move NOVA back into the Mann Building by September 2012. They will then be renovating Meany for SBOC and SBOC will be housed at Lincoln (about 18 months to two years). SBOC would move back to Meany in about 2014.
Now let's go back just a scant couple of years. We just HAD to close buildings. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said so. Mann was a crappy building. Meany was a failing middle school. SBOC deserved a home. So they ended Meany's program, closed up Mann, and moved NOVA and SBOC in together, saying it was a good fit.
It's not like these two groups hated each other; both have such thoughtful people running their programs that it never could have been the case. But they are wildly different groups with different goals.
So my first reaction when see the informational sheet for the Board about moving NOVA back to Mann was "Good for NOVA." They love that old building and had made it their own. I'm sure they will be glad to be there.
And, for SBOC, a home to call their own.
Here's the district's background info:
The cost of delivering the approved SBOC/World School Academic Program Model at Meany Middle School with the existing collocation of NOVA within the Meany building exceeds the current budget alllocated for this site. This is primarily due to lack of classroom space as a result of the existing collocation of both Programs within the Meany Building and the anticipated growuth of the SBOC/World School Program. The cost to relocated the NOVA program to the Mann Buidling and renovate both the Mann and Meany building with single program occupancies can be done within the existing budget.
Dora Taylor, a NOVA parent, made a couple of telling statements in a Seattle Weekly story about the co-joining of the programs back in 2009:
"The reassurance that was made to the school board by the superintendent," says Taylor, "was that Nova would be moving into a safer building and that it would be 'high school ready'...Neither is the case."
Taylor says more classrooms will also be needed to accommodate the two incoming programs (Meany housed 419 students this year; Nova had 312 and SBOC had 229).
How come so many NOVA and SBOC community folks knew this wouldn't work for a variety of reasons?
So why would I be mad? Let's go with some of the district's own words from when they closed these buildings (all of this comes from Seattle Weekly reporting):
Numerous expenses come with closing schools, including hiring a project manager to oversee the process and "team-building" exercises for staff transferred to new schools, according to district spokesperson David Tucker.
Mann has a $4.2 million backlog and needs $284,000 in seismic work.
The district says its city-wide closure plan will save about $16 million over five years, plus millions more in not having to do overdue maintenance and upgrades at Mann, Hay and three other shuttered buildings.
How much did this yanking around of programs and communities costs us in hard cold cash?
And as someone who has had to look people in the face and tell them their school is closing, I know the psychic costs to staff and parents and students. It is stressful and draining and gut-wrenching.
And for what? To turn around and undo it all a few years later?
Speaking of money, for some reason the district says it has about $4M+ to fix up Meany for SBOC to become the World School. (Currently SBOC students, in grades 6-12, come in as new immigrants and take classes at the school to become "orientated" to the U.S. and Seattle school system. Some stay weeks, some months but the idea is to move them into a regular school. With the World School, it will be a true high school for students who want to stay in one place.)
Under BEX II, there was to be $14M for a modest upgrade for whereever SBOC ended up. Somehow that got bounced down to about $10M. I have been told over and over that it is in reserve for SBOC and I know it didn't get used at Meany because the upgrades there were from BTA. So where is SBOC's $10M BEX money? Funny but the BEX website says that SBOC DID get an upgrade.
No, it didn't.
Now I know that NOVA will be happy to be back in Mann but let's examine what they gave up. They had fixed up the school. They had furniture that the district refused to move to Meany (and Charlie, did it ever make it there or get abandoned?) NOVA will move in and, once again, try to fly under the radar so the district will leave them the hell alone.
What is happening here? We have an influx of new students and suddenly this district can't open buildings or find space fast enough. It's like crazy town. There's no rhyme or reason to it.
And at the Operations Committee meeting, was any of this discussed? No, they were too busy saying what a good idea this is and yes, yes we must bring it to the community. But see to get NOVA back in Mann, they already asked for an RFP Their tight project timeline starts July 22 so I'm not thinking they'll be a whole lot of discussion going on. (They did kind of look embarrassed that this didn't get brought up to these communities BEFORE school ended.)
Harium they needed community engagement but it's "just just an idea." No, it's not. There was not ONE mention of how painful it is that all this money and time and energy just got wasted by moving NOVA and SBOC in together. No measured talk about not making these kinds of expensive mistakes again. No, it was just move on.
This is real money being wasted by all this running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It is sad and very disturbing when you consider all the building needs in this district.