April 28th Address to the
As Im sure you are
aware, there has been a lot of commotion in the community for several weeks
regarding the Task Forces recommendation to demolish the 1922 building.
And what it boils down to is simple:
There have been
numerous letters in the Advocate, also a front page feature article, hundreds of
people have signed petitions, there have been meetings and emails and phone
calls and posters. It all boils down
to the same thing: many people want you to choose to reconsider that one part of
the Task Force Plan, that which leads to the demolition of the 1922 building.
Several weeks ago, soon
after I learned of the upcoming Task Force recommendation to demolish the 22, I
met with Mr. Niklaus in his office. I
told him that I thought there were many people in the community who do NOT want
to see it demolished. At that time I
had no idea just how many.
That day in his office
he told me that the decision was not about money, the fact that it might cost
more to renovate the building than to build a wing with new classrooms, but
rather it was about the future; namely, that investing money into the 22 stands
in the way of the long term plan to move the whole Middle School away from its
current site near downtown Annandale, to a different site.
He repeated a similar
message at the April 9th meeting of supporters of the 22, and at that
same meeting Task Force member Jeff Lundquist said that the money aspect is not
that important, but rather that the issue is about the fact that the current
Middle School site is landlocked. Also
at that meeting, a former School Board member asked why the building has to be
demolished; why not just leave it there? Mr.
Niklaus answer was that it would just get worse.
The Task Force Report being presented this evening says remodeling the 22
would commit the school district to this site for decades to come.
Ive given that a lot
of thought, and Ive concluded that its very clear that the decision to
demolish the 1922 building was put in place a long time ago.
Thats why the building has been allowed to fall to such a sad state,
needing so very much in the way of deferred maintenance.
A recently retired
teacher told me just the other day that one thing
It has been a
long-standing assumption on the part of most of the community, including some
former school board members, that the ultimate demolition of the building was
inevitable. The current Task Force
was informed at the beginning of its many meetings that it could not be repaired
and would eventually have to go. Then
inspectors came out and declared the building to be structurally sound.
It needs much in the way of fixing, but it is basically a sound building,
just one that has fallen into disrepair.
Based on the assumption
that it would be demolished soon anyway, its is understandable why decisions
were made year after year to put as little money as possible into fixing it.
But surely we can consider the option of bringing our existing classrooms
back up to being quality educational facilities rather than adding more
classrooms -- especially during this time of declining enrollment.
And its not too
Mr. Niklaus told me
that day in his office that the school district is at a crossroads: the 22 is
currently in such a bad state that it must be either fixed or demolished.
And the Task Force report says the same thing.
Bullet Item #17 of the consensus statements says:
The 1922 portion of the building needs to be phased out or
We here this evening,
and those hundreds of people who wrote letters, signed petitions, and contacted
you in other ways, we respectfully implore you to choose the latter option, to
remodel it. There is value to both students and the community in leaving the
building where it is.
It is not too late to
bring the building back, but once its gone, its gone.
Speaking only for
myself now, let me say that if the next bond referendum does NOT include the
renovation of the 1922 building, I will be terribly disappointed, but I will
still vote YES. I have never voted
against anything the school asks for, and I cant imagine I ever will.
But if the next bond referendum does include the renovation of the 22, I
vow that I will work very hard to see that it passes.
Many of us who wish to
save the 1922 building from demolition have considered this whole process to
have three phases.
Soon you will have to
decide if all this commotion is just a lot of noise from a few people, and then
you can continue on the current path leading toward the demolition of the
building. But we hope you
will conclude, instead, that this issue is a deep concern for many
people who would consider the demolition of the 1922 building a profound
loss. In that case we hope that you would choose to alter the current
course and include the renovation of the 22 on the next bond referendum.
Before I close, I want
to thank you for your service to the community as members of the School Board.
It is a big responsibility, and I have never doubted that you all do your
very best to make the right decisions.
In conclusion, our
message to you this evening is simple:
At this crossroads in
the future of the 1922 building, please listen to the many and sound reasons for
putting its renovation on the next bond referendum.
ITS GONE, ITS GONE!
Please Contact Us with comments, questions, corrections and suggestions.
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