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Columbia School District administration building addition, air conditioning use different funds

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | 6:15 p.m. CDT; updated 10:59 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 6, 2012
Jerry Masek, Stoney Ingram and Greg Huhman build part of the 40,000-square-foot addition of the Columbia Public Schools Administration Building on Sept. 6. The total cost of the building is estimated to be $7.8 million.

COLUMBIA — Patrons of Columbia Public Schools are wondering why some schools lack air conditioning even as the district more than triples the size of its District Administration Building.

The question has been raised on blogs, in emails and in the comments section of digital newspapers.

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Doreen Frappier, mother of three children in public schools, is among those who want to know: “If they have money to spend out on a new administration building, why can’t that money be used to put air conditioning in our schools?”

The district’s short answer: Different funds

Superintendent Chris Belcher said the money for the $7.8 million addition and the money for air conditioning projects can't, by law, be mixed.

The money for air conditioning comes from the bond issue voters approved in 2010. The bond lists only specific improvements to schools. 

The addition to the District Administration Building, 1818 W. Worley St., is being paid for over time with money that has gone toward leasing administrative offices on Bernadette Drive and Vandiver Drive. A more detailed answer follows later in this article.

What exactly was approved in the 2010 bond issue?

The bond issue was for $120 million. Another $18 million is being carried over from the 2007 $60 million bond issue. Here's how the $138 million is being spent and an estimation for when the projects will be finished under the original timeline:

  • Construction of Battle High School: $75 million, August 2013
  • Construction of a new elementary school: $15 million, August 2015
  • Air conditioning: $14.8 million, September 2014
  • Facilities projects such as roofing and interior renovations, not including the addition to the administration building: $10 million, August 2014
  • Interest and fees: $8.2 million, ongoing
  • High school gyms: $7.5 million, August 2014
  • Technology: $7.5 million, ongoing

How will the addition be financed?

The district will finance the addition by ending leases at its Vandiver and Bernadette locations. The expected savings from eliminating the leases is about $500,000 annually, according to the district website. 

The Vandiver location has parent-teacher programs, instructional and informational technologies, athletic departments, shipping and receiving departments as well as other programs, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

The Bernadette location houses business services, nutrition services, special education programs and human resources, she said.

The move is an effort by the school district to centralize its operations, Baumstark said.

One way to look at the purchase of the addition is to it compare it to taking out a full mortgage on a house, Belcher said. The district will have to take out a loan to pay for the new addition. Each year, the loan sum will total about $490,000. The district will pay this amount for 25 years; and, including interest, it will cost the district about $12.7 million.

How much larger will the building be?

Right now, the District Administration Building is 12,000 square feet. The addition to it will be 40,000 square feet.

The expanded building will house 142 employees, about 100 of whom are being relocated from the district offices on Vandiver and Bernadette.

How much will the addition save the district?

Projections made for the Columbia School Board and district leaders by an architecture company, Simon Oswald Associates, and engineers show that the Worley addition will save the district between $1.7 million and $7.6 million over 25 years.

The range in savings depends on whether the annual rates on the leases they're abandoning remain the same at the Bernadette and Vandiver facilities, Belcher said. If they do, the district will save at least $1.7 million; if they rise to 3 percent — an increase he said can be predicted based on historical rates — the savings could be as much as $7.6 million.

Why build the addition at all?

Belcher said the Bernadette and Vandiver locations are old buildings that are costly to operate. The Worley addition will be a “state of the art” building that will cut heating and cooling costs, potentially saving the district another $2 million in operating expenses over the next 25 years, he said.

“We have to have a state-of-the-art office so that we can function appropriately and have it be a one-stop shop for parents and families,” Belcher said.

How does the recent levy adjustment fit in?

Last month, the board increased the adjustable property tax levy 3.2 cents, adding about $1.3 million to the school district budget. Of this, $962,857 will be allotted toward the capital projects fund. A majority of this money will go toward air conditioning projects.

Belcher said that under the timeline for the 2010 bond issue, money would not have been put toward the air conditioning costs until 2013. The levy increase means the project can start ahead of schedule, he said.

Strong views all around

Mike Martin, whose Columbia Heart Beat blog reaches more than 9,000 subscribers, said in an August blog post: "Despite administrative promises that date back several years, older elementary and junior high school buildings in the Columbia Public School District remain stuck in an architectural achievement gap, without air conditioning after decades during which school officials should have installed it."

Each of Doreen Frappier's four children either attend or attended Midway Heights Elementary School or West Junior High School. They are two of eight public schools that lack air conditioning; seven of these were dismissed early four times this year so far because the classrooms were too hot. Grant Elementary School was not let out early because most of the building is air conditioned.

“In the middle of August, it’s just not a good learning environment for anyone," Frappier said.

Belcher said he understands these sentiments and wants to assure Columbia residents that the addition is a responsible course of action.

“We need to keep communicating so they’ll understand what we are doing makes good sense,” Belcher said. “It’s financially healthy, and it’s good for students and staff. Not doing this because we are afraid someone would accuse us of something would be the wrong thing to do.”

Belcher said no one wants air conditioning in those buildings faster than he does.

"I’m embarrassed and frustrated that we have this inequity in our system,” he said. “We’re all human beings, and some kids are comfortable and some teachers comfortable, and others are sweating like crazy.”

The district welcomes questions

Baumstark said she welcomes questions about all district operations. Her number is 573-214-3960 ext. 1, and her email address is mbaumsta@columbia.k12.mo.us.

“Contact us, and we are happy to answer those questions and try to get information out in as many ways as we can,” Baumstark said. “They are certainly taxpayers and patrons of our district, and we want them to know that we are diligent when it comes to finance and taxpayer dollars."

Baumstark said every district in the state grapples with communicating how money is allocated.

“It’s a complicated thing to understand that bond funds have a timeline associated with it — that we don’t automatically have the ability to borrow down $120 million all at one time,” she said.

Despite the board's plan, Frappier remains disappointed that the school board did not address the needs of students sooner. 

"If the administration turned off the air conditioning in their building on the days kids were sent home early, the board might have a different opinion," she said. 


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Comments

Jimmy Bearfield September 13, 2011 | 9:06 p.m.

All of the funds come out of the same pockets: taxpayers'.

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis September 14, 2011 | 8:01 a.m.

I could not agree more, why don't the District Administration Buildings turn off their air on the days the schools let out early for heat? I think that would show real compassion and sympathy, actions speak louder than words.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 14, 2011 | 12:12 p.m.

So Sally we let them out now in the heat so they can go longer next summer in the heat? It may show compasion to turn off the air but it cost more to recool the building to turn it back on. You know the funny thing is that I am in Afghanistan and they don't have fans, air conditioning, running water, and sometimes a roof over their head and their kids attend school when it is in session. Oh and guess what they don't have buses so they really do walk miles to scool. They do it in a war zone. We close our schools down when it gets too cold but in AK it doesn't really matter how cold it gets. Sorry not going to get a lot of compasion from me when there are others who know real suffering.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 14, 2011 | 12:57 p.m.

Ahh, the old "it's from different funds" canard.

City, county, school district -- you can count on hearing the "different funds" explanation every time a huge mis-priority -- like Garagezilla or in this case, 'Ministration Mountain -- gets thrust on unwary taxpayers.

Jimmy Bearfield is right.

When administrators use $7.8 million to expand their own digs, in back of a school -- West Junior -- that has never had air conditioning no less, how can they honestly think the public cares -- or should care -- about which pot of money provided the funds?

Only one pot of money provides the funds -- tax dollars.

Whether it be to repay and guarantee bonds, or as good old-fashioned levies, tax dollars provide it all.

If administrators choose to divvy the money up in self-serving ways like this, the public should demand that the "administration fund" be greatly reduced in favor of the "public priorities fund."

All too often, however, the public priorities fund takes a seat way in the back.

'Ministration Mountain -- a mountain of your tax dollars at work building new digs for the CPS Administration (while they of course contemplate more tax hikes).

Meanwhile, the air conditioning gap -- and the achievement gap -- continue.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 14, 2011 | 1:14 p.m.

Mike it may be all tax dollars but you are smart enough to know that the law doesn't allow for mixing of the funds. So why are you stiring the pot?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 14, 2011 | 2:23 p.m.

"The law doesn't allow..." is too often just another canard.

I can't recall how many times I've heard that "the law" doesn't allow this or that spending priority or policy approach, only to see an administrator push it through anyway.

The City of Columbia "sewer stink," is a great example. Despite the best efforts of a top-level management whistle blower -- Bill Weitkemper -- powerful public and private interests have violated the law for years.

Here's one of many references:

CITY HALL: Billing mess, legal violations widen
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/2009/11...

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 14, 2011 | 10:01 p.m.

"Despite the best efforts of a top-level management whistle blower -- Bill Weitkemper -- powerful public and private interests have violated the law for years."

I would like to point out the you stated Bill was violating the law. So are you suggesting that our Admins should break the law?

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks September 14, 2011 | 10:45 p.m.

The sewer department needs to break the law a little. How else can they afford those $12/hr employees?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 14, 2011 | 11:22 p.m.

Solution: Just swap buildings for a year. Next fall, students use the new Admin building, and the admins move into West. Then the admins can promptly upgrade the AC in West without any constrictions of 'the law' that keeps them from doing it now. The following fall, move everything back.

Whatever law that supposedly forces them to make a new admin building a higher priority than climate control for student buildings is, point blank, wrong.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 15, 2011 | 12:21 a.m.

Derrik there is no law that says it is a higher priority it is a matter of spending and the ability to complete construction of the buildings. You are not a teacher so I will explain why it isn't a good idea to "swap" the buildings. First there isn't any gym at the admin buildings, second there isn't a cafeteria, you would have to move every desk, chair, locker, blackboard, whiteboard, and book to the admin buildings. Why don't you allow the experts to do the thinking?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 15, 2011 | 8:29 a.m.

@Allan:

The "expert thinking" you're insisting we all adhere to has left me scratching my head that in 21st-century Columbia, Missouri -- a comparatively wealthy, well-educated college town that supposedly prizes quality education -- we are even having such a debate about a 109-year old technology.

Air conditioning, as we know it today, was invented in 1902.

CPS should have installed A/C district wide not 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, but at least 30 years ago -- or more.
It remains part of a much larger "resource distribution gap" that in the case we're debating here, shows up in full regalia between resource-rich senior administrators building a $7.8 million HQ addition, and resource-poor teachers and school buildings who have to scramble for every penny, particularly in older parts of town.

A former public administrator in Mexico, Mo told me recently it's a running joke in her town that Columbia schools still have to let out for heat days!

It's such a throwback that even small communities like Mexico don't get it. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else, either, and I've lived all over this great land.

(PS: You misread my note about Bill Weitkemper. Not sure what you mean there.)

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield September 15, 2011 | 8:49 a.m.

The key to funding projects such as AC for all schools is to close the gap between the amount that parents pay in the CPS portion of their property taxes and the amount that district spends on each student.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 15, 2011 | 11:15 a.m.

Mike I did not follow the link as it went to your blog but I was assuming you were referring to Bill breaking "the law" about mixing funds. There is a law about not mixing the funds and it is a good one. The expert thinking that we need to have well thought out plans before we start suggesting that we uproot a bunch workers and kids just because we are not pleased with the process.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 15, 2011 | 11:45 a.m.

@Allan: We'll agree to disagree, then. Thanks for your service to our schools and country and stay safe over there.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 15, 2011 | 1:07 p.m.

Its nice to know that there are some bloggers who can agree to disagree. lol. Trust me when I say I will definitely try and stay safe.

(Report Comment)
Doreen Frappier September 18, 2011 | 9:54 a.m.

We all are aware that the air conditioning will never be turned off in the administration building. That was just a way to illustrate a point. Our children live in an air conditioned society, and it is very difficult to concentrate and learn when the classroom temperatures are above 100 degrees. I don't know how anyone could be comfortable with that. It is a safety issue to have a physical education class, and exhausting for the children and teachers who have to perform in this environment. Air conditioning was scheduled, in many of the schools, to have been installed prior to this article. Then, we hear that all the money was re-allocated toward the new high school and elementary school. Just this week we heard that land was purchased for another elementary school. I think that it is simply unbelievable that a school system as rich as CPS has schools without air conditioning in this day and time. Even more unbelievable is that the board would approve a school calendar that begins in the middle of August or conduct summer school in schools without air conditioning. There was a survey sent out asking if parents approved of the school calendar. I answered that survey, commenting that I disapproved of the schedule, because schools with out air conditioning should not begin until after Labor Day. I am curious as to what the results of that survey were. Many thanks to Mike Martin for getting the "media" ball rolling on this subject. I love his "architectural achievement gap" analogy. This is a subject that I have put forth at many PTA meetings since my children attended elementary school, and the response was (and still is) "air-conditioning is coming". When? "We don't have the money" seems so inadequate considering all the past support for CPS from the taxpayers. I think air conditioning should have come before new gyms for the existing high schools, which are under construction at this time, but sporting events are potential sources of income. Also, it is very frustrating for students and teachers to watch the "state of the art" administration building being constructed while their underwear sticks to them and sweat drips off their faces. Promises, promises. I know how I will vote in April.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 18, 2011 | 12:44 p.m.

@Allan: Yes, I am a teacher. I pulled my daughter out of public schools, and am home schooling. I teach my children things every single day. On my job, I teach co-workers and clients things every single day. I regularly teach MU students about passion, dedication, and the rewards of hard work.

I am a teacher.

Your "Leave it to the experts" attitude is a large part of the reason why I've pretty much had it with public schools. How much more blatantly egocentric could you possibly get? You greedily try to extend your reach and control into my home, but create smokescreens and walls of misbegotten policy if I try to do the same the other way.

The fact that you appear to have even taken my suggestion seriously shows a severe lack common sense and reading comprehension. Get a clue: the suggestion was hypothetical, meant to point out that administrators would *never* be willing to suffer the same misery they glibly allow students to. If the administrators were forced to move their offices to West Jr, they would have their justification lined up, and a PO for AC installation cut, by the 2nd day.

First, you tell me there is no law forcing the decision to build a new administrative building first, before installing AC in existing student buildings. Then, you tell Mike there *is* a law about not mixing funds, and it's a good one. The article clearly states that the law about not mixing funds is what district officials cited as the reason the administrative building could be built first, while the air conditioning had to wait.

Your statements seem duplicitous, to say the least. This is exactly what I mean by "smokescreens and misbegotten policy." Whatever combination of the law, and interpretation and application of said law, it took to justify the construction of massive new administrative building before completion of climate control installation for student buildings, is just plain wrong.

I don't think there's any shortage of parents and taxpaying citizens who feel a responsibility to teach the school district administrators this lesson about right and wrong:

Completing AC installation in all district buildings first, is right.
Constructing a new administrative building first, is wrong.

It's a simple as that.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum September 18, 2011 | 12:54 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Shaina Cavazos September 18, 2011 | 2:01 p.m.

Hi all,

Thanks for contributing to the conversation over this issue. I'd just like to remind everyone about our comments policy. Please keep the conversation civil and refrain from personal attacks and name-calling.

Thanks,

Shaina Cavazos
Assistant City Editor at The Missourian

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 18, 2011 | 5:16 p.m.

Doreen is hardly alone in her concerns. After covering this issue, I published the following notes:

Hey, Mike: Thanks for shining a light on the major back-pedaling by the school district. Did you know they're putting a Band Aid on the a/c problem at West? Last week, workmen were unpacking and installing window air conditioners in teacher offices and some of the classrooms -- I think in the Science wing among other places. But most classrooms still have no air. Made us all wonder -- will they ever make good on the promise to put in central air? -- West Junior High parent

Mike: Thank you for highlighting the air conditioning issue. Ridgeway is so old it is our understanding that the electric grid can't even handle window units. Some lower floors have window units due to student medical conditions that existed, but I do not believe any rooms on the upper floors have window units at all. Frequently the kids sit in rooms with windows opened, fans going and no lights to help keep temps down. Back to School night was sweltering. I looked like I'd just gotten out of the shower by the time I left the building after only being on the upper floor for 30 min. -- Ridgeway Elementary parent

Hi, Mike. You've really hit on something with the air conditioning piece. That's a big deal. I have kids at Ridgeway, and I can't believe how hot that building gets. It was sweltering at Back to School night, and I don't think there are any window units upstairs, where it gets hottest.
-- Another Ridgeway Elementary parent

Mr. Mike: I do indeed remember when Superintendent Phyllis Chase told parents at Grant Elementary that we'd be getting central air conditioning as a result of bond passage, which she encouraged us all to vote for. That was three or four years ago. So where's the A/C? -- Grant Elementary parent

It seems like CPS uses air conditioning as a perennial "carrot" held out to get people to vote for property tax increases and new bonds. I suspect, though, that to get the necessary votes these days, school district administrators will have to start keeping their promises. -- Another Grant Elementary parent

Hi Mike, Thank you for your Columbia Heart Beat. I absolutely enjoy reading the honesty you provide.

Here's my question, unfortunately based on CPS air conditioning. CPS
has released certain schools without air conditioning early several days
already this academic year. Our family is fortunate because our son attends
a school with A/C. We are lucky because we don't have to figure out and pay for alternate daycare during those days.

But students let out for heat days are not required to make up the days -- they count as full days for the school district. How is it fair that those students don't have to make up those days out of school? It may seem petty - but to our kids it's not.
-- A CPS Parent (school not identified)

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 18, 2011 | 5:39 p.m.

While I can appreciate the gravity of the air conditioning issue I can't help smiling. Are you nice people aware that generations of American children - including my generation - somehow managed to go K-12 without the benefit of air conditioned schools? Seems highly improbable, but somehow it happened. Of course in my case it was less of a concern because I attended public schools in a city in the frozen North where we had nine months of winter and three months of rather bad outdoor ice skating.

And, LOUIS SCHNEEBAUM,I really like your remark about not being as intelligent as one might like to be. Because I don't like Fogle? No, not at all, it's because it occurs to me that your remark could easily apply to most of us (and I don't exclude myself).

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 18, 2011 | 8:18 p.m.

Yes, and generations before us went without cars and natural gas heating.

We went without computers, and the ability to post several times a day on the Columbia Missourian (I challenge you to give that up).

Go back far enough, in fact, and you'll end up in the Stone Age.

The argument about having not had a critical technology decades ago is meaningless. We did not build this society on looking back, but on looking forward.

That is how we educate our children, and how we should all be practicing what we preach.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 18, 2011 | 8:20 p.m.

For the record, the primary reasons to pull my daughter out of public schools are:
1) Get her in college a year earlier than otherwise;
2) Eliminate the school as a convenient scapegoat for failure.

As irritating as watching the actions of, and dealing with, school administrators has been at times, for the most part the system works. I would never have pulled my child out for that reason alone. I'm still a big supporter of the public school system, and am willing to take responsibility for the parting of ways. I view many of the school system's problems as a symptom of it having been used as a political battleground for the last 40+ years.

Speaking of responsibility... It's ironic that I read, over and over on these very discussion boards, that parents should take responsibility for their children's education. But, the moment I actually stand up and say, "OK, this is my responsibility." I get told, "No, No, WE are the experts!" Sorry, but I am the ultimate authority on my own children.

Speaking of irony... my own house is not fully air conditioned. But the reasoning, and differentiation between my own house and a school building, is far too much to enumerate here.

I rather appreciate Ellis's point; indeed no public school building I ever attended had air conditioning, either. But back then, school started after Labor Day, and ended earlier in the spring, too. Not to mention the fact that average temperatures were actually almost a full degree cooler back then.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 18, 2011 | 10:39 p.m.

More of the same: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/opinio...

[my summary] ... 'Parent power, the next big thing! Blah blah blah. But unless they do things exactly as told to by the 'experts' (who are running things now), they'll mess everything up' ...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 19, 2011 | 7:11 a.m.

@ Derrick Fogle:

Would you care to comment further as to why you want your daughter in college a year earlier than otherwise? I could see an "economic" argument: college costs increase annually.

Home schooling has in some cases I'm familiar with been very successful. For example, a family who home schooled their children for religious purposes. Their oldest child recently graduated from Iowa State University with nearly a 4.0 GPA in Mechanical Engineering. One criticism of home schooling has been that the child (children) lacks "social interaction" with other children, something present in public or even in private school. Of course there are differing aspects to "social interaction," not all of them positive. Gee, we had that situation when I was in public school. Some home school parents have increased social interaction by getting their respective students together on a regular basis.

There's something besides air conditioning we didn't have in the five public high schools (and two Catholic high schools) in the city where I attended high school: it wasn't deemed necessary or desirable to have in-building police or security guard presence at any of the high schools. Because all the students were angels? Hardly!

I wish you the best with your efforts to educate your daughter. One of the most important things we can give our children or grandchildren is the opportunity to receive an adequate education - with or without air conditioning.

(Report Comment)
fhhdg hfgybdh September 19, 2011 | 10:40 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Allan Sharrock September 19, 2011 | 10:48 a.m.

@Derrick If you want to claim your statement was just hypothetical and blame my reading comprehension to make up for your rash comment that is your business. Just like how you educate your kid. I am not trying to "greedily" expand my reaches into your home so I am not sure where you are getting that thought from.

I am sure the district is not using any law to justify why one building is being built while the others wait it is a matter of scope of work in some cases. It is just a matter of how things can be constructed in a timely manner according to the bidding process and approved building sequence.

Bonds are for buildings and they cannot be mixed with levy funds for construction. It has to do with paybacks to investors. The funds for the Admin building comes from a different pool of money (end the lease) and cannot be mixed with the bond money. Levy funds are operational funds. I am clear about the law that prohibits them being mixed is a good one. This keeps people from voting in Bonds for on thing and then the government from doing another thing with the funds. If you vote on a tax issue then that money should be used according to how the ballet read. Property tax funds and federal tax funds are given to schools to be used in a manner that the board sees fit. The board is our elected reps. Those funds can be allocated in a broader range. I am sorry if you are upset because you don't like the system but pools of money must be kept separate for many reasons. Getting all excited and upset doesn't change the fact the the AC is coming there is a plan in place it is the same plan that the current Admin has promised. The Admin funding is a separate issue and funds and should be treated as such.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire September 19, 2011 | 11:22 a.m.

"Why don't you allow the experts to do the thinking?"

Your local expert says...

This discussion has become quite heated. It appears that a few people are now hot under the collar because of a little heat that has been applied to them. The participants should chill out and let cooler heads prevail. And maybe take some remedial reading comprehension.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 19, 2011 | 12:02 p.m.

After reading this article again, I have to ask:

If you can't mix bond funds and levy funds according to the law, why is the school district planning to do just that?

They are, in fact, planning to mix in levy funds to help pay for air conditioning -- a bond-funded project.

That decision is part of what kicked off the big renege debate -- the public voted for bond funds to be used on air conditioning without levy increases, but that isn't what has been happening.

Now, levy funds from the CPS Board's recent tax increase are being mixed with bond funds to pay for air conditioning. That's not what the public voted for, nor what anyone expects.

According to all these "legal arguments," it must be breaking the law, too.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 19, 2011 | 12:43 p.m.

@Ellis: Academically, she already tests at college level in most subjects. Emotionally and maturity-wise, peers her own age are not doing her any good either. Getting a year ahead of tuition inflation is an insignificant consideration.

Both the risks and rewards of what we are doing are far more significant than the alternative. We've deliberated about this for nearly a year. When all was said and done, we decided the potential reward outweighed the additional risk.

I personally went through a similar situation at that age. Getting me away from peers my own age and into a college-age crowd and setting (although I still finished public high school, just got transferred to a much better one) was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The thing that's different this time is today's technology can deliver, straight into my house, almost all of the resources that were found only in schools when I went through. Without my own history, and intimate knowledge of my child's temperament and outlook compared to mine (again, why I'm the ultimate "expert" on my own child), I couldn't have made such a decision. But my vantage point gives me confidence that this is the best choice.

Don't get me started on the police-ification of our school system. Wait... too late. Darnit. This, again, I view as a facet of public schools being a political war zone. The school's top priority has nothing to do with educating children; liability mitigation is Job #1. That's why they must defer to and hide behind "authority" figures - police, educational 'experts', and design-and-decision by committee. These tactics all mitigate a school's liability, should something go wrong.

Then, there's compliance, funding, crowd control, and a host of other non-educational priorities brought on by decades of political warfare, before they can get down to actually teaching kids. The public school system really is failing, and it's everyone's fault. It's a sad sad situation, to be sure.

On a personal note that might brighten your day a tiny bit, we're already hoping our younger child will wind up in Missouri S&T. We think it would be an awesome experience for him. But to make that successful, we may have to pull him out and accelerate his math and science curriculum.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 19, 2011 | 1:22 p.m.

@ Derrick Fogle:

Thanks for your response. Given the situation it appears you are taking the correct approach. Again, I hope you will have a good outcome.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire September 19, 2011 | 1:41 p.m.

And just remember...
If things don't work out you could always send them to IRAQ!!!

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin September 19, 2011 | 1:51 p.m.

@Derrick:

My family and I have had a great experience with CPS -- two children, over several years -- and I stop well short of calling public education "failing." One critical level -- the leadership level -- is stumbling badly, however.

That said, you've done a marvelous job, over your several posts, explaining some of the problems public education faces today.

You've also offered one thing "experts" often do not offer -- honesty. Their expertise is usually bought and paid for -- by the leadership -- so the experts are not often in a position to be frank and honest.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 19, 2011 | 4:21 p.m.

@ Derrick Fogle:

You're popular today. Here's something in the "small world" department. I was having lunch at Applebee's today when I was joined by Tom Schwauwecker, our country assessor. He'd noticed I was wearing a cap with an S&T logo on it. Tom has a son who graduated from MS&T a year ago in Mechanical Engineering and is now working in Chicago.

I assume that Tom's son graduated from one of the two local high schools (I didn't ask).

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle September 19, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.

@Paul: *That* would be a failure to meet our goals. :-O

@Ellis & @Mike - Thanks!

@Allan: Sorry I bit into you like that. I had originally had a 2nd paragraph in my first post on this thread making it clear my "Solution" was hyperbole. I deleted it because it seemed pedantic, and I have a lot of trouble with being too pedantic. You're not the only one who mistakes my occasional sarcasm here for seriousness, so I certainly share the blame. I'll leave the pedantic in next time.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 19, 2011 | 9:09 p.m.

Don't worry about it Derrick. That is the one thing about blogging it is difficult to show the correct emotion and mood at times. I could have been a bit less brash myself.

(Report Comment)

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