Saturday, October 1, 2011

Flawed School Committee Judgments

There was a discussion of FY2013 capital needs at the School Committee meeting last Monday night (Sept. 26).  The current year capital needs list (FY2012) included replacement of the Williams Middle School lockers (cost = $70K) at a very high priority.  At last week's meeting Michael Clark recommended to the SC that this locker upgrade again be ranked at a high priority behind the upgrade/replacement of the fire alarm/security systems at GMS and WMS (#1 priority) and upgrade of the WMS ventilation system (#2 priority).  School Superintendent Marie Doyle strongly supported the high priority ranking of the WMS locker upgrade.

Interestingly enough, Adrian Phaneuf, Facilities Director- who reports to Mike Wrabel voiced quite a different opinion as to the need to position this locker upgrade as a high priority capital project.  Listen to short video clip from this same meeting (courtesy of LCTV) for his thoughts.

Question: Does the School Committee (including the School Superintendent) even listen to our town professionals who have greater expertise to make these judgments?

Note: I have to congratulate Mr. Fitzgerald in asking whether or not the window upgrade at WMS for energy savings and improved student comfort should be ranked higher than the locker upgrade project.

This is not the first time that the SC and Ms. Doyle have been involved with factually inaccurate assessments of conditions at WMS and GMS.  The Select Board and School Committee had lengthy discussions in January 2011 when "updated" SOIs were being submitted to the MSBA (see related Buzz posts).

With such faulty judgment, I seriously question some of the conclusions and recommendations made by Mr. Clark and Ms. Flynn during the earlier Middle School Study presentation on the condition of WMS and GMS.  Given the above inaccurate assessment concerning the WMS lockers and the earlier SOI submission episode, I question the objectives and motives of the SC.  Are we simply setting up to go through the same "playbook" as was used for the high school?  Make the conditions appear to be as deplorable as possible so that residents will be easily convinced that we have no choice but to tear down and rebuild new.

On Monday night, at a joint meeting of the SB and SC two new members will be appointed to the School Committee.  Hopefully, the selected candidates will bring some improved fact gathering and decision making skills to the School Committee.

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