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Fredo's positions gaining momentum


by fredo
on 2/28/2009 @ 7:45am
The Tacoma NAACP is recommending that Tacoma voters say NO on the School Bond initiative.


by seejane on 2/28/2009 @ 12:48pm
New carpet and new buildings will do nothing to raise test scores.

If schools need money that bad they can start by getting rid of sports (NOT P.E. class). How much does football cost the city?
What benefit does it have and how many students does it benefit?

If school sports are important to a community let the private sector pay for them... like little league baseball.

by michael g. on 2/28/2009 @ 2:26pm
Yes, allowing already poor facilities to deteriorate further will create an environment where school administration, faculty, and students will finally realize that academics are what's really important. Yep, that's the ticket.

by seejane on 2/28/2009 @ 3:01pm
Tacoma should maintain buildings, but it seems crazy to tear them down and rebuild them.

And, like the rest of us the school district needs to examine their budgets for waste.

by tacoma1 on 3/1/2009 @ 11:44am
I don't think many people believe that we should let the schools crumble around our children.

The stark reality is that the amount that the school board is asking us to pay is huge. Maybe the school board can demonstrate some budget restraint before they ask the average Tacoma citizen to give them more than $5,000.

by Twisty on 3/1/2009 @ 11:57pm
We've given the schools a billion dollars over the last few years. A *BILLION* freakin' dollars... for schools in Tacoma (not a large city, by any stretch of the imagination). If they couldn't fix what needed to be fixed for that kind of money, it's not new schools that are needed... what's needed are new administrators.

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 12:36am
A school building is not a single family house. It's an institution that serves 400-1900 children for 6-12 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days out of the year.

For 37 years, we've had a requirement that in order to raise enough funds to rebuild a school, we have to hold an election. Consequently, major capital improvements (like new buildings) have taken place at an unnaturally slow rate. As a result, districts across the state have been forced (because of the critical state of their infrastructure) to rebuild in the past decade, when construction prices have been very high. In the past decade, we've rebuilt or replaced 19 of our school buildings, including the 108 million dollar Stadium High School.

For all the grief the district has received for rehabbing Stadium, I can't imagine the outcry had they decided to let it go the way of the Elk's Club building.

Substandard school buildings lead to more absences, poorer health, lower achievement, lower teacher retention, lower property values, and generally lead to the impression that we really don't care about kids in our community. The three middle schools included in this bond measure will be the only three middle schools not to receive major capital improvements should the bond be rejected. Please don't use these kids as a way to make some abstract point about unrelated issues, and vote yes on the bond.

by tacoma1 on 3/2/2009 @ 8:33am
If the school board wants me to spend the kind of money that they are asking for simply on trust and faith that they will do the right thing, they are mistaken. I want to see details and options, not just one XXXL size fits all.

For example, Stadium High at $108 million........... Why did we have to pay over a million dollars for a parking lot for the kids to park in? Isn't this the green generation? Can't they take the bus, ride a bike, or walk? It worked just fine for me when I went to school. I'm tired of paying for parking lots in Tacoma. Are these buildings going to be energy efficient? Will the school district employ techniques to reduce traffic around the schools or are they going to ignore that issue and increase traffic?

Another question. Has anyone seen an analysis of combining schools to save money? What about declining student enrollments city wide?

I don't deny the need to support our schools, The schools represent our future and the backbone of our city. I do refuse to spend thousands of dollars without getting all of the details.

by seejane on 3/2/2009 @ 9:52am
I agree with twisty and tacoma1.. it's time responsibility for school buildings and their maintenance was removed from the school district. They're teachers not property managers.

and sell the freaking parking lots!

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 11:12am
The reason public building construction is so expensive is because construction contracts invariably require construction workers to be paid at "prevailing" wage rates. I think this is to guarantee that every worker gets paid really good.

by scout on 3/2/2009 @ 11:23am
Tacoma1 - you are being rather demanding wanting to see details of how your tax money is spent - don't you know that our fine government just passed a trillion dollar economic stimulus plan, a document of which was more than 1,0000 pages, that they weren't given any time to review (they were told they could review it after it was passed!) - a plan that will financially strap future generations for all eternity? What is your problem?

by scout on 3/2/2009 @ 11:25am
.......Not to mention driving the federal deficit into the stratosphere

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 11:33am
They are combining schools.

The reason you currently see two half empty middle schools, is because they are combining two this fall, into one new school.

(Not a part of this bond)

Other middle schools are at capacity.

Here, lots and lots and lots of details:

www.tacomacitizens.org/localresearch.htm...

Also, more details:

www.tacomaschools.org/information/depart...

If you need more details, please call the school district's public information office:

253.571.1015 where a very nice woman named Leanna will be happy to tell you anything you need to know. Over the years, I've called them for lots of bizarre reasons and they've never even asked why, let alone failed to get back to me with the details.


by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 12:17pm
I have a pretty good metric on how many people have googled "Tacoma School Bond' since the ballots went out. (About 40)

99.99% of people don't actually care about the details, although they sure do like to say they do.

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 12:40pm
Voters shouldn't have to personally call Leanna or surf the internet to find out the bond issue details. The details should have been included in the informational(?) brochure the district sent out to all the residents at great expense. The fact that the brochure looked like it was designed to be read by a grade schooler shows the contempt officials have for the taxpayers.

by chrism39 on 3/2/2009 @ 12:45pm
Their is a book by an author with the last name of Kozol, who goes into depth about the fact that crumbling schools do in fact impact children ( mainly poor children and children of color) I have said it before and I'll say it again. Sell the property that Washington Hoyt sits on, it will make the school dist a ton of money. Sherman not only has competitive test scores, but they were honored as a school of achievement.

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 12:49pm
More detail = more expense.

I am sorry if you feel it is too much work to have to pick up a phone.

Fredo, I'm going to let Louis CK take it from here....

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoGYx35ypus



by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 12:57pm
Jen@ Why would providing the initiative details in the brochure require more expense?

Furthermore, I doubt that your friend at the school office really wants every voter to call her for the missing information.Most voters probably assume all the details are in the brochure.

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 1:16pm
Why? Why would they assume that all of the details of a 300 million dollar project would be included in one small direct mail piece? The truth is, most people enjoy complaining about not knowing the details more than they do reading them, or apparently responding to them.

1) Someone has to write the thing. The only reason the bond campaign has the details it does right now is because I have been willing to put in 40+ hours of unpaid work to assemble it. A school district employee would have to be paid for that time.

and
2) More detail=more space=more paper, more printing costs, more postage = more expense.

I'm pretty sure the large font was to accommodate the substantial population of elderly voters who traditionally vote in school elections.


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2009 @ 2:09pm
And while we are at it, let's lower the minimum wage, that is pretty much the cure for everything. I'm sure the NAACP is for that as well.

by tacoma1 on 3/2/2009 @ 3:38pm
Jenyum@
So, I went to the school boards website, and I see a list of the middle schools that they want to build, but I see absolutely nothing to justify why these schools are needed. Just their wishlist. Maybe these schools are needed. I just don't know, and they have yet to demonstrate the neccesity of taxing me .75/$1,000 on my home for 20 years. They are asking for the money, the burden of proof is on them.

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 3:59pm
@Tacoma1,

The district is in a very difficult position because they are not permitted to "campaign." They can't say: "here's why you should vote for the bond."

There's a pretty good explanation of the condition of Baker, Hunt and Stewart in the Tacoma Weekly's article, which we link to from the campaign website:

www.tacomaweekly.com/article/2808/

I should re-do the section on schools on the campaign website to make it more clear. (I didn't write that part originally)

Hunt and Baker middle schools were built in the mid twentieth century using very cheap construction. (Hunt actually was hailed as one of the least expensive schools in the country, per square foot). They used cheap composite materials which are literally crumbling and have developed mold problems. Also, they are very expensive structures to heat.

Stewart middle school was built in the 20s and is a very nice structure, but the interior needs a ventilation system, total replacement of plumbing and wiring, and seismic upgrades. (Brick buildings+no seismic upgrades is a very dangerous thing)




by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 4:07pm
I am tired and I'm not being as articulate as I would like.

Basically: the district is prohibited by law from campaigning for the bond. They can however provide simple facts about the bond.

So if you are looking for the *why* you should be looking at the campaign website, which is here:

www.tacomacitizens.org

Most of the why is here:

www.tacomacitizens.org/research.html

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 4:20pm
Black Collective Endorses the Bond:
www.thenewstribune.com/updates/story/643...

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 6:48pm
Jen@ when I suggested that the brochure be more informative I didn't mean the district should send every voter a complete set of construction blue prints. I meant both sides of the issue needed to be presented (only the pro side was in the brochure). There should have been a lot more details due to the fact that most households are going to be getting a bill for about $5000. As tacoma1 pointed out, the burden of presenting this in an informative manner is entirely the district's.

I've considered your other point, that a somewhat more elaborate brochure would have cost some more money. You're probably right. But let's not be penny wise and pound foolish. We're talking about granting a taxing authority with a pricetag including interest of as much as 1 billion dollars.

by tacoma1 on 3/2/2009 @ 7:30pm
I do agree that these schools need some help, or outright demo. But the dollars for this bond issue are huge.

Maybe there needs to be a fundamental change in how we fund our schools in Tacoma. Putting the entire tax burden on the homeowner's tax assessed value seems misplaced.

Why should a person who owns a $500,000 home and may only have one child in the school system pay twice that of a neighbor whose home is worth only $250,000, but may have two or more kids in the school system.

Seems that the tax method doesn't target the end users of the school system. Yes I know we all benefit from the schools, whether we use them or not. I don't believe that someone without kids shouldn't pay in, but there should be a more equitable way fund the schools.

by ensie on 3/2/2009 @ 7:41pm
Fredo, didn't you just bitch all about how the brochure was a waste of taxpayer dollars? You can't have it both ways - wanting the brochure to be an even more expensive all-encompasing booklet telling you exactly what you want to know or sending out a less expensive piece asking for your vote? Most direct mailing pieces don't show both pros and cons. Not ony that, but can't you see the cons in this situation? Many Tacoma schools are crumbling. The information is out there, God forbid you have to click on Tacomamama's links to get to it.

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 7:58pm
Ensie @No, I didn't. If I complained about the cost of the brochure in one of my postings would you please do us all a favor and italicize it in your posting? I couldn't find it.

Regarding direct mail pieces: Mailings from a governmental body such as the school board are supposed to be neutral, presenting both sides in a non partisan manner. The governmental body isn't supposed to suggest how the voter should decide. This brochure was paid for by the taxpayers, not the proponents.

Sorry you're having so much trouble following the discussion.

by jenyum on 3/2/2009 @ 8:13pm
You did start an entire thread entitled "School bond brochure: Fair use of tax payer dollars?" Or something to that effect.

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 8:19pm
Jen@ Yes I did, the issue was the fairness of the information found in the brochure. Of course the district should puslish a brochure before the public votes on a huge bond issue. The only requirements for such a brochure are that it be informative, fair, and balanced. The direct mail piece was not.

by ensie on 3/2/2009 @ 8:21pm
Fredo - Sorry, I guess it was just you complaining about the direct mail piece being fair or not in your post "School board direct mail campaign...fair use of tax dollars?" Somehow I thought this was you not wanting money spent on these brochures?? But now you want more??

I'm not having any trouble following the discussion. It seems that you are (now) upset because of a lack of information out there? Tacomamama has provided link after link to information on why it would be good to vote for this bond. You have done nothing but complain about the money you would have to pay to fix Tacoma's schools that are falling apart.

I've witnessed your unwillingness to follow a link before. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you just ignore the information out there that might disagree with your opinion.

I spent several years working in direct sales to schools. Visiting multiple schools in Tacoma was shockingly different than traveling to other areas of the Puget Sound (as well as Southern California, where I did the same thing). Many schools here are on their last legs.

I'm certainly not excited about paying any more money for anything right now. But providing resources for our teachers and children is not something we can afford to pass on.

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 8:31pm
If Tacomamama is the clearinghouse for the districts information it's too bad they didn't make this clear on the brochure.

by ensie on 3/2/2009 @ 8:37pm
I'm saying the information is there for anyone who wants it. Tacomamama was nice enough to make the information easily available for you, but you would prefer to bitch about how no one has access to this info. simply because it wasn't printed on the brochure.

by fredo on 3/2/2009 @ 9:27pm
I'm not "bitching" about anything. I identified a big proceedural flaw committed by the school board and posted it for discussion. The taxpayers paid for a mailing that recommended passage of a bond issue the taxpayers are going to vote on.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2009 @ 10:39pm
I think the school board and district would always recommend passage of a bond for the school district. District puts a bond on the ballot, of course they will want you to vote yes. Now if the board and district was sending out a mailing asking you to vote yes or no on a non-school related issue I think we'd have a problem.

by ensie on 3/3/2009 @ 10:33am
Fredo -

I almost peed myself laughing when you said you weren't bitching...when AREN'T you bitching?

Well said Crenshaw.

by fredo on 3/3/2009 @ 12:35pm
Ensie @ Glad you find my postings so amusing. I was beginning to think we weren't buds any more.

by tacoma1 on 3/3/2009 @ 1:59pm
I'm still in "sticker shock" on this one. My heart says give these wonderful children a new school. My fiscal common sense says the little brats can make do with what they have.

If things are actually this bad, maybe we need to vote out the current school board for letting our infrastructure decay this much and get some fiscally competent people in.

I haven't decided how I will vote on this. I wish that I didn't look at the math to see how expensive this is.

by fredo on 3/3/2009 @ 6:20pm
tacoma1@ Its OK to vote no. It doesn't mean you don't love the schools. The initiative will pared back and presented a 2nd time if it fails.

by jenyum on 3/3/2009 @ 6:58pm
Although I have zero problem with addressing your policy-related complaints to the school board. (As opposed to the middle school kids.) I would point out that there's been little any school board could do to speed up the construction process since the schools started needing to hold bond elections in the early 70s. I don't know that our school board has done a fantastic job with the infrastructure, but I do know they've had lots of company.

The infrastructure has decayed largely because we as a state decided at that time that we were tired of investing in it, and placed a huge hurdle in front of any school district wanting to make major repairs or alterations. The older the schools get, the worse the problem gets. It's an issue in all districts across the state.

So yes, please do pay close attention to the school board elections, but also consider that reform at the statewide level may be a necessity. We need a stable source of funding for the schools.

huntroof

by jenyum on 3/3/2009 @ 6:59pm
Although I have zero problem with using the democratic process (like a school board election) to address your issues with the schools, I would point out that there's been little any school board could do to speed up the construction process since the schools started needing to hold bond elections in the early 70s.

The infrastructure has decayed largely because we as a state decided at that time that we were tired of investing in it, and placed a huge hurdle in front of any school district wanting to make major repairs or alterations. The older the schools get, the worse the problem gets. It's an issue in all districts across the state.

So yes, please do pay close attention to the school board elections, but also consider that reform at the statewide level may be a necessity. We need a stable source of funding for the schools.

huntroof


by jenyum on 3/3/2009 @ 6:59pm
Although I have zero problem with using the democratic process (like a school board election) to address your issues with the schools, I would point out that there's been little any school board could do to speed up the construction process since the schools started needing to hold bond elections in the early 70s.

The infrastructure has decayed largely because we as a state decided at that time that we were tired of investing in it, and placed a huge hurdle in front of any school district wanting to make major repairs or alterations. The older the schools get, the worse the problem gets. It's an issue in all districts across the state.

So yes, please do pay close attention to the school board elections, but also consider that reform at the statewide level may be a necessity. We need a stable source of funding for the schools.

huntroof


by jenyum on 3/3/2009 @ 7:28pm
Argh. sorry about the many posts. Didn't look like any of them went through.

by fredo on 3/3/2009 @ 11:24pm
No problem Jen, this has happened to my postings a few times. Thanks for your thoughtful contributions to my posting.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/4/2009 @ 6:58am
Perhaps the school district just drop the bond thing all together. Instead turn some of the schools into sweat shops and contract out to business. Could be a win win situation. The district could get some needed revenues and business would have a source of sub minimum wage labor so they can stay in business. What we need is visionaries that think outside the box. Sure there are those pesky child labor laws but I think if we just cover all of this by calling it vocational education we'll be just fine.

by fredo on 3/4/2009 @ 7:31am
Crenshaw@ If we don't stop piling up debt on city residents there may be no alternative. Voters might want to open the business section of the local paper and read it before marking their ballots.

by jenyum on 3/4/2009 @ 7:35am
Businesses will not thrive in a neighborhood with schools that look like this. Have you noticed what's happening to the West end?

by fredo on 3/4/2009 @ 7:56am
Neither will businesses thrive in neighborhoods beset with foreclosure signs. The affordability of homes is critical to Tacoma's success.

I don't know what's happening in the west end. Could you share this with me? And whatever it is, did the condition of a school cause it?