Facilities for new consolidation explained
After reading all the previous Letters to the editor and listening to the complaints about the Facilities Recommendation for the new consolidated District #404, I feel it necessary to clarify a few things. First of all, I will not presume to speak for the entire Committee of 10, but I want to say that the majority of the Committee of 10 wholeheartedly agreed with keeping the 5 school buildings open. We were not forced into this opinion as it has been previously stated. This was in the original points of agreement made by the two separate school boards, but it was discussed several times that if we thought it was blatantly apparent that one or more of the points did not work, we would adjust accordingly.
We had specific reasons to why the 5 buildings should stay open, the first reason being to avoid overcrowding at the grade schools. The original feasibility study recommended that the 6th grades be moved back to the grade schools. This would put the Music and Art teachers on carts and possibly increase class sizes to make room. This whole process was to better the curriculum and education of our children, and I don't know how anyone could say that this would be better. The second reason was to increase vocational opportunities for the 7th and 8th grades. Once again, it was all supposed to be about increasing curriculum, not saving a buck. The third reason was the 3 gymnasiums and football field in Joy that would help keep practices after school and avoid evening and early morning practices due to scheduling conflicts. The fourth reason was the fact that if we closed the Joy building and then decided we needed it, we would be subject to modern building codes that we are currently grand-fathered into. There are many other benefits that I could list, but I'll stop there.
The capacities of the school buildings are constantly being quoted, stating that the 4 buildings have adequate room for all of our students. Capacities based on square footage do not take into account room usage. You might have a room that has a capacity of 30, but you have three classes with 10 students each of different subjects, you can't cram all of them into a room just because they would all fit. You also have to take into consideration computer lab space and special education rooms that students' Individual Education Plans determine the size.
All of these factors were considered when making the facilities recommendations. They were not taken lightly, nor did we feel forced. Once again I will state that I do not presume to speak for all the Committee of 10 members. It should also be stated that the gentlemen who conducted the original feasibility study had some incorrect information that skewed some of the findings. They were under the assumption that the Westmer Life Safety improvements would be avoided by closing the building, when in fact the improvements were happening as they spoke. They had to be done regardless of consolidation. They were also under the impression that the Aledo school buildings needed very little improvements because all of that information was not ready at the time of the Study. We all read in the paper later that they had several problems also.
I have sat by long enough while the facts have been misinterpreted. Meeting after meeting went on without any input from a certain group that has now surfaced, and now that it is done and we have spent countless hours of research to make the best recommendation possible, the criticism starts. Where were you all when we were looking for sub committee volunteers? Where were you when we were driving to meetings 3 nights a week when gas was close to $4 a gallon? I'm sure it's much easier to sit back now and pick apart the work of others than actually join up for the job.
In closing, I want to stress that the Committee's recommendations were not politically biased or forced. The Feasibility study is obsolete. Get over it. The consolidation is in the best interest of the children, and we have to have faith in the system that will put it into reality. The torch has been passed, and I urge everyone to calm down and let the process work. In addition, if someone wants to claim to be speaking for the voice of my children, they should check their facts first.