FPC Meeting 8/20/08


There were meetings about police station funding and the new schools last night. I am very interested in the new station but since I wrote a letter about the high school it seemed fitting to attend the latter meeting.

The core size of the high school, at 3000, is treated as a done deal by the Facilities Planning Committee. Last night they were trying to decide on initial classroom capacity and it looks like they’ve landed on 2500. One member cautioned against “lopping off” classroom space as it would cramp the style of his wife the teacher, who knows ever so much more about educating our kids than we do so would we please just leave all this to the professionals.

Here’s what the professionals have in store for us:

  • “Infrastructure,” such as lighting, for a stadium that is supposed to be privately funded. High school principal Lindsey Hall made sure to clarify this as “just one idea brought up and discussed,” but I mean, really, look at their track record of saying “no” to any of these ideas.
  • Expanding the size of the indoor track. “Is the track big enough?” asked school board president Mike Verbic. “No!” was the emphatic response. They badly need to spend $2 million more to bring it up to par.
  • A library capacious enough to house a coffee shop.
  • Yours truly was paid a huge compliment when, at the end of the meeting, it became apparent that several FPC members had spent a whole day analyzing my letter so they could ambush me with it.

    Seriously, I must abandon normal expectations for this group because their behavior continually disappoints me. Assistant Superintendent Andrea Gorla came over to the peanut gallery before the meeting and warmly greeted the person on my left and then the person on my right. That would have been the time to say something like, “We are going to address the concerns brought up in your letter tonight,” but she didn’t. Alternatively, they could have amended the the agenda–come to think of it, they probably should have amended the agenda because this was an item in its own right. They were perhaps out of order. Can’t wait to see the meeting minutes.

    Speaking of meeting minutes, school board member Fred Davis, who was given credit in the letter as one of the five who voted against a high school core for 3000, is listed in the 7/22 minutes thusly:

    Fred Davis No (Clarification needed)

    which make the minutes definitely out of order. Mr. Davis voted without reservation last month. The “clarification” last night was his backtracking along the lines of, “I didn’t mean it, guys.”

    But I digress.

    So anyway there I was, the nondescript woman in the corner who didn’t intend to expend energy on anything except to ask for a clarification about whether the school district actually paid money for the Cortland elementary site (they didn’t) when suddenly I hear Ms. Gorla saying something like, “…she says in paragraph 5 that…” and I’m like, “Holy cow, is she talking about my letter?” and I look around to see everyone’s eyes riveted on Ms. Gorla except for one of the architects, who is actually sneering at me.

    At first I wasn’t really inclined to respond, because my basic gripe with FPC is its inability to adapt to changing economic circumstances for the sake of little guys like me, which they will never understand in a million years. That’s why I wrote a letter to the editor instead of addressing FPC. Why waste my breath? But I did end up feeling compelled to touch on their out-of-touchness and my feeling of being under-represented as a taxpayer; and I also stated categorically that I stand by every word in the letter.

    There is something disorienting about suddenly finding oneself swimming in a sea of hostility so I’m sure I didn’t deliver my remarks with the usual flair. But I think I did OK under the circumstances, and next time I’ll do better, being nothing if not adaptable.

    Next month FPC will discuss Phase II.