Playing Games with Excellence

Lincoln Elementary is recognized by the state as an Academic Excellence School. It also has a first-rate library. Coincidence? Of course not.

Yet, despite the principal’s protestations that parents were over-reacting to their “brainstorming” session last month, the school’s Building Leadership Team (BLT) will be bringing a proposal to the Administrative Team to move the library to the Bridges room which used to be the music room. If approved by the AT, the Bridges program will move to Cortland, and all-day kindergarten will be housed in the current library space.

Somewhat ironical is District Superintendent Beilfuss’ flat-out statement last night at the Facilities Planning Committee (FPC) meeting that all-day kindergarten is not possible at Lincoln right now due to its running at capacity.

Moving the library to the old music room is a better idea than Library-on-a-Cart, but here’s the thing: It’s been done before and I challenge you to find someone, anyone who will say that it worked. What’s more, the library has thousands more books than it did then. Staff would have to cull the collection in a major way. Why can’t they wait for the redistricting to be done? Then we can have both library and kindergarten done right.

What a slap in the face to the PTA and to the individual families who’ve helped build excellence into the Lincoln Library.

Enviro Woman & Building Schools

The intention is to begin attending DeKalb School District 428’s Facilities Planning Committee (FPC) meetings despite harboring doubts that a non-construction type could contribute much to the discussion. But now the thought occurs: Send Enviro Woman! She’ll know what to say! Such as, “LEED, or get out of the way!”

Take the case of the precast concrete vs. masonry construction debate. Enviro Woman gets up to speed pronto on anything having to do with R-values. She knows, for instance, that hurricane-vulnerable Tampa is not only sold on precast construction for its ability to withstand storm-force winds but for its average insulation values of R-18 to R-20.

“Hmm, not bad,” purred Enviro Woman in her deceptively casual way as she perused the latest promotional literature. “DeKalb’s Building Code calls for a minimum R-13 in exterior walls. But energy costs are not going down, and I know of a precast with an insulation value of R-30. It’s also the world’s most lightweight precast, which brings costs down further. And to top it off, the manufacturer is local.” Continue reading Enviro Woman & Building Schools

Lincoln Library Update: I’ve Been Had, Says the District

[Update 2: If you’ve come back to this article and the update looks a bit different it’s because I’ve tinkered with it a bit based on information that continues to come to me. IOW, I’m still working to bring you an accurate picture of the situation. Feel free to contact me about it at any current e-mail you have for me or at:]

Update: I went to the Lincoln PTA meeting last night, but instead of finding out what I could do to help Lincoln save its library, I found out instead that despite appearances, the Lincoln PTA leadership had nothing to do with the letter sent to the parents. Furthermore, we were told that the District is NOT at this time imposing such a plan on the school. I apologize for being a trusting sap and promise to be more suspicious in future. 🙂

According to principal Christy Meyer, a group of parents had taken a piece of information from a brainstorming session; she implied that they over-reacted. A school committee called the Building Leadership Team (BLT), which is charged with seeking ways to meet District academic goals, is currently having a shot at investigating the possibilities for Lincoln to move to an all-day kindergarten. Both the District and Lincoln support this goal because of the possibilities for early intervention. The ideas included in my article arose from a good old-fashioned brainstorming session in which any and all ideas are tossed out and listed without comment, and saved for evaluation on another day. The evaluation step, according to Meyer, has not yet occurred.

That’s not to say that the District doesn’t or won’t impose changes on the school; indeed, they co-opted the former music room for the Bridges program last year. [I imagine the brainstorming went something like this: “Well, we now have art on a cart and music on a cart, so why not library on a cart?”] But, really, IMO we need to see how the building repurposing and attendant redistricting shakes out first.

What I didn’t fully realize until now was how much Lincoln’s short-term future was affected by the passing of the referendum. Lincoln was scheduled for an addition with groundbreaking this month, but that plan is halted to see what the Facilities Planning Committee comes up with. An idea for a mobile library is also off the table for the moment. The always-tasty irony here is that I would have attended the FPC meeting if the Lincoln Library situation hadn’t seemed so urgent. Geez, and now I’m on Mac’s bad side. Thanks a lot. Continue reading Lincoln Library Update: I’ve Been Had, Says the District

Thoughts on the School Referendum

I voted last week. I voted FOR the school referendum. It was the consistent thing to do. I believe that fabulous infrastructure, rather than give-aways, are what attract the types of industry we’d like to attract; that is, if we want DeKalb to be associated more with the Route 88 Research & Development Corridor and a bit less with the I-39 Logistics Corridor. It is also a better plan than what we’ve seen in the past, includes a high school which has always been a prerequisite, and ties in with the downtown revitalization and other renewal projects. Like I said: consistent.

That being said, I am very disappointed that the other communities in DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 do not feel the need to pay their fair share when it comes to impact fees. I am not a fan of impact fees but until we find another way to save ourselves from property tax madness and/or tax abatement heaven for industry it’s what we have to do. It really burns my donkey that Cortland might be getting a new elementary school despite collecting thousands less per home than DeKalb is. It is obscene that Malta will not be collecting anything at all.

And if the referendum passes, we’ll have lost any leverage toward equity.

Referendum Talk

Well, I probably shouldn’t post on this for a couple days but I see people are coming by to look so what the heck. The thing is, this referendum is an emotional thing for some of us to begin with; and then to go to such a meeting it can take a little while to get things back into perspective.

By “such a meeting,” I mean one that has cheerleaders who can’t behave and people asking fake questions just so the answerers can try to manipulate the feelings of the skeptics in attendance. You know: an infomercial.

A few things got through the haze, mostly the ironic. Such as, having a question-and-answer session without many answers. Such as, having the neglect of your maintenance department revealed when you’re asking for two more big buildings. Such as, having $200,000 men telling the rest of us what we can afford. Such as, having an oversight committee of the same group that will be doing the building–fox! henhouse!–and BTW the same group of people who fought the impact fees that could have reduced the size of the mess we face now.

Such as, having a gung-ho group of volunteers who can call every voter in the district about the referendum but not to gather input on the plan to begin with.

Whether I think the plan itself has merit will have to wait for another day, I’m afraid.

ReNew Our Schools Called Today

“Can we count on your vote?” the young man asked.

I don’t know exactly why it turned me off, but it did. Maybe it was the obvious scripting. Maybe it was the fact that it turned up on caller i.d. as “unknown caller” with the number 000-000-0000. I told him I was undecided–whether I am or not–because I really don’t know who was doing the asking.

Update later in the day: OK, now I’m untangling the threads, no thanks to the Chronicle.

A town hall meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the Egyptian Theatre by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. It will feature speakers from both the school district and the ReNew Our Schools Committee. Following the speakers will be a question-and-answer session that will last until all questions from the audience have been addressed, according to a news release from the chamber of commerce.

Does it sound like the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the ReNew Our Schools Committee are separate? They’re not. ReNew Our Schools is a PAC in the care of Mark Kerman, who serves on the Chamber’s board of directors. Notice that District 428 Superintendant Paul Beilfuss is a board member, as is Daily Chronicle publisher Jon Pfeifer. It does not strike me as being particularly honest to pretend that ReNew Our Schools is some sort of grassroots effort when it is a CoC project.