Letter to the Editor

Not in favor of school proposal

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To the Editor:

I have spent the last year looking at what has been proposed and planned for the buildings of the Clay Community Schools Corporation, along with the operation and how the buildings affect education and operating costs.

I, thoroughly, reject what the Clay Community Schools Corporation's elementary facility and security program. It is simply not the best use of our tax money, based on the facts.

The program would build all of our schools up to 147 square foot per student, to match Jackson Township. The national median square footage per student for new elementary school construction is 122.2 square foot per student. The national median average cost of a new elementary school is $11.6 million and the national median average enrollment of those new schools is 700 students. The EFSP calls for $11.6 million to renovate two buildings with a total enrollment under 600. By pure coincidence, the amount that is planned by the Clay Community Schools Corporation to renovate to educate 547 students is almost exactly the same that is being spent elsewhere to educate 700 students. As every square foot that we build adds to the cost of construction, the EFSP is not exactly the best use of our tax dollars.

More important than the total amount of space enclosed within a school building is the number of classrooms. The availability of classrooms and teachers determine class sizes. Class size affects the ability of the teacher to teach and the students to learn. The EFSP moves classrooms from the modular buildings and adds a few classrooms to out total, but does it add enough classrooms to affect education in a positive manner? Even if we had the physical classrooms to reduce our elementary class sizes, are the funds to hire enough teaching staff to fill them within our budget?

I have to agree with a recent letter to the Editor, "Board member asks for support," (printed in The Brazil Times, Aug. 25), that there is a lot of misinformation about the EFSP. The question is which side, the advocates of the EFSP or those opposed to it, is generating it.

My opinion is that we need a different path, one that takes into consideration a lot more than buildings. What we do to our buildings will affect education quality and how much money it costs to operate the corporation for decades. The EFSP needs to be stopped, dissected and all options given due deliberation before we proceed.

We simply need to eliminate the wasting of money within the construction program and in the cost of the operation of the Clay Community Schools Corporation. After all, that wasted money is your tax dollars.

Sign the blue remonstrance. We need to re-consider this decision, research the facts, weigh all of the options, and devise a plan that actually improves education, reduces costs, plans for the future and solves as many of the corporation's problems as possible.

Whatever we do, we are going to be "stuck" with, so let's do it right.

Leo Southworth,