Leading from the Left

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Feedback on Schools Post

I received a great deal of feed back regarding my last post about the schools. The most common was along the lines of "How could our schools get to such a state?"

A school board member or the superintendent would be better placed to provide a complete answer to that question, but I believe there are several contributors. First, the Chapel Hill Carrboro system has been building a new school every 2 years or so for over a decade. Building new schools is extraordinarily expensive (the next elementary school is estimated to cost $35 million), and it's very easy to postpone roof repairs and the like when the system is bursting at the seams and needs to construct a new facility.

Second, their are repeated demands from parents and the community at large for new academic programs. Let's face it, roof repairs aren't sexy but adding chinese and spanish language classes for elementary school classes is. The reputation of the Chapel Hill Carrboro School system is built around offering a higher level of programs that other public school systems in North Carolina. When choices have to be made, maintaining that reputation may be more compelling that fixing a roof.

One retired school teacher emailed me to complain that the system administrators waste (his words, not mine) 'so much' money on trendy new programs and projects that they over look needed and necessary repairs and maintenance.

I'm not taking sides or criticizing school adminstrators or the school board; they have a tough job. But I am glad my post about conditions in our older schools captured the attention of folks in our community. While it may not be sexy, fixing these problems is important. Leaking roofs, mold, flooding classrooms and so forth definitely effect the quality of education our children get.