Sunday, August 17, 2008

No, Mr. Cahill

More about standardized school designs. I've already analyzed his plan and found it lacking (though, with some good ideas). For starters, only half of this state's construction sites would be suitable for a standardized design. Secondly, the Treasurer is a) deciding what towns can and can't afford [Note to Cahill: that's up the the towns and democracy, isn't it?] and b) mandating what towns can do with their facilities, completely violating centuries of the spirit of Massachusetts and local control.

One caveat: in terms of academics, the schools Cahill would use as models have plenty of science labs and facilities that could host lectures or be used in a number of different ways. The schools are academically sound, which would ensure that many or even most towns would want to use all or part of these designs to save costs. However, there are others that wouldn't want to use the designs at all - we shouldn't make them. Also, the idea that towns wouldn't be allowed to add to the designs is ludicrious - using any part of them would save on some of the costs, so let's try to get as many towns involved as possible.

Here's the most contemptible thing Cahill has to say:


Cahill hopes the program will eliminate one-upmanship, which at times has prompted a spate of field houses, swimming pools, and other expensive perks.

"It's not just what the state can afford for these projects but what the towns can afford," Cahill said in an interview last week. "Standardization will take the envy factor out of the process."

That just reeks of know-it-all-ism. People don't like that. Are these towns really trying to 'one up' each other? Is that the only motivating factor Cahill can possibly think of? Is it at least conceivable that a majority of people in certain communities would want a community building that would have a field house or a pool? Is it not conceivable that these facilities serve a role for the entire community - a place where kids can learn how to swim or skate?

These things are expensive - and certainly not necessary - but since when was America about doing the bare minimum? America is about Democracy - let the towns decide. It's not as if one town building a field house would cost the rest of the state anything - the state only helps to reimburse expenditures deemed necessary - academic. The extra frills aren't covered.

Furthermore, while not every town needs a pool, a field house and hockey rink, we need at least some schools in every region to have one of them. We can't ship off our kids in busses for an hour every day in the winter, just so they can get to hockey practice. Every region will need a couple of each, so if a town wants to build one or two of those "extra perks," as the Treasurer put it, it may be completely necessary for the student athletes in the school. Let's not forget that student athletes perform better in school - and many sports are what keep students active and interested in learning, or even keeps them from otherwise dropping out.

So, let's go full steam ahead with the model school plans, but for heaven's sake let towns modify them or do something else if they're willing to cough up the dough. Let's not prevent communities that are willing to expand community resources from doing so, by creating keep-everyone-down policies. That's not what America's about, that's not even what equality is about, that's more like something out of the CCCP. No thanks.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ryan:
I would go even further than Cahill with my proposal. I would want to see a full blown evaluation of regionalization options before funding any middle or high school projects. Consider the proximity of MHS and SHS and now ask your self why two new HSs. The constructions cots and the ongoing admin costs will make these regionalized efforts more and more necessary.
Dave Whelan

Ryan Adams said...

but whatever would we have done without a big turkey day game? the opportunity to regionalize shs/mhs was a lost opportunity of colossal magnitude. Not only would it have saved both towns tens of millions, but it would have made for a better school with better facilities and more options for students. nothing we can do about it now...

(that said, I prefer the carrot over the stick with these kind of policies. I don't think we should mandate regionalization, just make it a much more attractive option so more smaller communities choose it.)

Anonymous said...

That's fine let individual rich towns opt out of the standard design. But we should limit state reimbursement if towns want to build the Taj Mahal. If it becomes a regional resource like a swimming pool at a centrally located high school in the western part of the state, reimburse accordingly.

Dave Whelan said...

You cannot let the "rich" towns do as they wish because they will always come back to the state for more funding. That funding will come in the form of ch 70 funding or % reimbursement of the cost of their new buildings.
Dave Whelan

Ryan Adams said...

Anon 5:24,

Our state already does limit reimbursements. Suffice it to say, Newton didn't get a full 40% back on their school.

It's a 'no frills' reimbursement, which I think is fair.

Anonymous said...

Ryan:
I am aware that reimbursements are limited. I think they should be further limited in the absence of a regionalizaion study. I am not a huge Cahill fan, but believe he is correct on the out of control nature of the school building reimbursement program.
Dave Whelan

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