Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Realism About the Taylor Report on the Lebo HS Renovation

For background, refer to this post and this earlier post about recent, devastating criticism of the School Board's approach to the Mt. Lebanon High School renovation project. From this point forward, I'll refer to the criticism as the "Taylor Report," after its author, Dirk Taylor.

Here is today's realism:

Does anyone expect this to change anything?

For months, even years, a majority of the School Board has resisted any and every argument about the high school project that consisted of anything but "we need a brand new facility." A majority of the School Board has clearly rejected putting the project to a public vote. It's been a week since Mr. Taylor delivered his report. There has been no move by the Board or the Superintendent even to publicly acknowledge its receipt -- though I know, from private emails, that they have it. It's likely that some people are on vacation (I was), and some people have jobs where late July and early August is the beginning of an especially busy professional period. But the entire Board?

I'm realistic. I don't expect anything from the Board except a continuing march forward with the current (ever more elaborate and expensive) plan. If you have more faith than I do, then I suggest this: Keep up the comments here. But go a step further. Many of you know members of the Board personally. Reach out to them. Encourage them to accept the Taylor Report as constructive criticism, and to respond to it. Ignoring it just polarizes the community.

And one more thing:

Has anyone asked the teaching staff what *they* think of the current renovation proposal?


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike, Joe, (and Bob):

I want to express agreement with your suggestions that community members reach out to the Board and its individual members with input and comments. As we all know, this project has been discussed for years, but new information and opinions are still welcome.

It can be disturbing when there is an apparent lack of open discussion from the Board. When that occurs from time to time, there can be many reasons for it; some reasons are valid, and some are not so valid. In either case, one should not accept a lack of debate when vigorous debate and discussion are indeed neccessary. So, speak up, and do it personally with Board members. Blogs do help, and mass emails have impact, but a direct email or call to a representative is vitally important if you wish to sway someone's opinion.

On the subject of Mr. Taylor's report, I think you'll find a surprising number of citizens, including some Board members, in general agreement with his analyses. I am one of them, for the record.

Perhaps in the near future, we can all figure some method to elicit more opinions and discussion from community individuals (in a non-confrontational way) that can help everyone sort through the facts -- and the real choices that have to be made regarding this project.

In the meantime, I would like a chance to review all of the blog comments and emails, and to respond fully with my personal opinions and observations about the current project.

Mark Hart

August 04, 2009 2:23 PM  
Anonymous David Huston said...

One down, eight to go.

August 04, 2009 3:13 PM  
Blogger Greg Nilsen said...

It always aggravates me when elected officials insist on doing things that are clearly on their own personal agenda and not in the best interests of their constituents. I'm fine if it's not popular, but is the best thing for the constituency, but this is clearly not one of those cases. In fact, proposing such a dramatic tax increase during an economic recession just to "keep up with the Jones'" is just ridiculous.

With any existing educational facility, for there to be a proposal to scrap it for a whole new facility, it should satisfy one of three conditions:

1) The facility poses health and safety dangers to students.
2) The facility is so outdated that it inhibits learning and student growth.
3) The school system has more students in the pipeline than the existing facility can support.

From everything I've read, this proposal falls into none of these categories. In fact, the appropriate category is probably "USC has a nice, shiny high school, and we should too", which is simply not justification for this $115+ million "investment".

That said, I'm unsure of the appropriate course of action. Do we write them en masse and hope they come to their senses? Are their actions we can take to block the actions they may take? Do we need to recall board members?

Even having been a Mt. Lebanon resident for the past 4 years, I'm not sure what choices we have available. Any clarification on that would be useful as well.

August 04, 2009 8:32 PM  
Blogger James Fraasch said...

I have posted my full response over at my blog:


It's a bit too long to fit in the comments section of BlogLebo.

I'd encourage everyone to continue to email/call/write/speak to the Board with your thoughts.

James Fraasch

August 05, 2009 6:52 AM  

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