Monday, January 01, 2007

A Tale of Two Schools

This April, the Anchorage School District is looking at putting two bond proposals on the ballot. The cost? 85 million dollars. The story can be read here:

65 million is being asked for to replace Clark Middle School.

Carol had this to say:

"We have really got major systems failures and very dark, old rooms where the electrical system will not support technology that we need. The science labs are completely out of date," Comeau said.
I find it interesting that the school in the top picture is a grade school that I went to. It was called Roseland Elementary. The photo was taken in November of 2006. It is now a Charter School. The school was built in 1959. the data can be found here:

Has it been replaced. No. Is it being used effectively to teach yes. In fact there is a waiting list to get into the Charter School. In the back there was a playground that I played on. Now it has portables to take more kids that would have otherwise never went there.

The attitude that I found in a Compass piece leads me to think that the value of an education is placed on the building and not what takes place inside it. The Compass piece can be found here:

The portion of the piece that makes my point is this:

The Clark we use today was built in 1958 to accommodate a basic junior high school organized around departments -- science here, math over there. In the 1980s, the nation moved toward the middle school concept. In middle school, students are on an academic team, and the team's core classes are all right next to one another, facilitating passing periods and helping to make the student feel a part of a smaller learning community instead of lost in a big, impersonal junior high. This does a much better job of keeping kids from falling through the cracks. We know that middle school works, but it is hard to run in a building built as a junior high.

Many other operational difficulties are built in to Clark. Our narrow halls and low ceilings, vestiges of its Civil Defense shelter design, make our passing periods a barely organized chaos -- an experience that is trying on students and staff alike and contributes to conflicts that require constant efforts to manage.

As Anchorage has grown, more wealthy and better-connected parts of town have gotten new schools. However, we still teach each day in 48-year-old classrooms with hit-and-miss heat, totally inadequate science facilities and only a patch-together nod to technology. We have 10 portables, holding approximately one-quarter of our school population, scattered around the building outside our security perimeter and totally exposed to danger should something spill over from the neighborhood onto the school grounds.

Compare the grade school that I went to, to what Carol and this gentleman states and you will see why your taxes are as high as they are. We are teaching our children that money is the answer to everything and that everything must be new.

The photo below Roseland Elementary school is the high school I went to. It was Carl Brablec High School and was built in 1969 and was later renamed Roseville High School because enrollment had dropped to where the city no longer needed two high schools. Roseville High School (the original) was built in 1956 and later was changed to become a Junior High and is still used today

The lesson here is, in 10 years you will see a continued decline in enrollment in Anchorage as is proven by the increasing age in the population. So as the district and others call for new schools, you will see schools not fully maximized and eventually closing

So this April, when you are asked to pay for a brand new school, stop and ask yourself, do we really need one or should the old one be renovated?

No comments: