Letter to the Editor

Reader believes need to replace buildings is imperative

Sunday, January 4, 2009

To the Editor:

Our need to replace our bus, buildings and grounds maintenance facility operated by the Clay Community Schools Corporation has reached critical level with the refusal of our insurance carrier to insure it any longer.

That fact does not mean that we should "rubber-stamp" the recommendations of the school corporation administration and invest millions of dollars to build a palace nor should be copy the plans of another school corporation due to them building a similar structure recently without due diligence to our needs and budget situation.

It was suggested at the last school board meeting that a building like one that Tipton Community Schools recently bid at about $2 million be considered, sight unseen. That building is a down-sized project first proposed at $5 million that the commissioner of the Department of Local Government Finance rejected.

Tipton Community Schools is not Clay Community Schools. Tipton Community Schools is populated by people with a per capita income of $21,385 per year, while ours is $16,472, according to the United States Census Bureau. Only 3.3 percent of their population is below the poverty line, while 10 percent of ours is.

TCS had a 2007 assessed value per student (A.D.M.) of $301,370, while ours was $199,569. That means that each of their 1,851 2007-08 students were supported by more than $100,000 of taxable value than ours were. Out of that, TCS operates only three school buildings while we operate 10. Our total average round trip bus mileage per day was 2,579 in 2005, while TCS put on 810 miles per day, requiring less than a third of our transportation costs.

These are just a few factors of the many that show that Clay Community Schools Corporation is unique in both capabilities and obstacles. Therefore, Clay Community Schools Corporation must evaluate its own needs and capabilities instead of assuming that what others do is what we should or could do. It is one thing to observe your neighbor's new Hummer and quite another to try to pay for one on a used car budget.

Also, the comment was made that "a pole barn" would not do. A pole barn will not do. However, a metal building such as the Romas Trucking facility could duplicate it for $800,000. In the same conversation, both the Director of Transportation and the Director of Buildings and Grounds expressed the opinion that a building like that would be sufficient for the needs of the corporation for the foreseeable future.

The school corporation should also be considering just how it is going to replace the Central Office, as that building is rapidly approaching the point of being a critical need.

Leo L. Southworth,