The discussion at the Finance Committee meeting was facilities modernization. There is an amendment to Resolution 713 to increase the debt amount for the Facilities Modernization Plan from $138 to $150 million.
In the 2013-14 School year the plan is to move #54 School into the Freddie Thomas building to share that space with the Montessori School. It has also been suggested that the Young Mothers Program be included in that building so that there will be two schools and one program being housed at the Freddie Thomas campus.
The discussion turned to the feasibility of restructuring schools to fit the K-8 model. Commissioner Powell, speaking for Superintendent Vargas, said that it is a terrible waste of district Capital Improvement and Facilities Modernization funds to take new buildings, those constructed within the last twenty years, that were built to accommodate a middle school population of students, and refit them to accommodate K-8. It appears that the K-8 plan is no longer in effect.
The solution, a task force has been assembled to create a facilities master plan. The goal is to align the construction design of the district with the district’s academic goals from Pre-K to 12. According to Jerome Underwood, Senior Director of Operations, “there is representation from Placement, Special Education, several people from Teaching & Learning, [an] elementary principal, a couple of high school principals to get various perspectives, of course my staff, technology staff, safety and security” on the task force. Commissioner White made it clear that Superintendent Vargas does not want Board members to be a part of this group.
It is also evident that the community will not be invited to participate in the development of this master plan. Once again, the most important stakeholders in the process will not be a part of the vision. And, since Board members are the elected officials chosen to represent the community, we are even further removed from the process when they are not welcome to participate.
Our children will not be academically successful until all stakeholders are included in the process of educating them.
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