Thank you to Troy Dassler, Marisue Horton, and others who commented on my report on the meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee on Monday, June 6.
Several people objected to my characterization of the some of the presentations as nasty and bitter. I know that it’s hard to perceive Leopold leaders and supporters as anything but polite, but I was shocked when they launched into immediate denunciations of Ruth Robarts and Lawrie Kobza, blaming them for the defeat of the referendum.
I video taped the meeting, and I hope to see the tape on the blog in the near future so that we can all assess the presentations, especially a particularly passionate personal attack on Don Severson, who stayed for the remainder of a long board meeting.
Several people also contend that the Long Range Planning Committee considered numerous options before settling on a recommendation to build a second school at the Leopold site. I’m not aware of the “many alternatives” weighed and rejected by the Long Range Planning Committee. As I look at the options on the MMSD Web site, I see two options — build or not build a new school on the Leopold site. Granted, there are variations on boundary changes based on the build/not build options, but the Web site does not show “many alternatives.”
Neither do I see on the MMSD Web site any discussion, maps, or other considerations of building one or more new schools at one or more different sites, re-opening Hoyt, purchasing and reopening Dudgeon, opening one or more charter or magnet schools in the area, building a school within Fitchburg city boundaries, or any combination of the above, just to name a few possible alternatives. If I missed information on these options, please let me know.
Immediately after the referendum failed, I wrote the following in an e-mail to Arlene Silveira:
My heart goes out to you, even though I voted no. You did everything you possibly could on the Leopold referendum.
Fortunately, you might still be able to win support for a West side school, and maybe even on the Leopold site, but as I posted on the blog, I beg the board and Leopold supporters to do two things:
1) Lay out three or four alternative locations and configurations for a new Westside school with a lot of public input, draw possible boundaries, develop cost projections, and then debate which alternative seems to be the most likely to achieve academic excellence on the West side.
2) Invite organizations or individuals to propose a charter school on the Westside. Several people during the debate suggested a charter or magnet school, so let’s see whether one might emerge as the best option for providing excellent education in the area.
If you need help with the process, I’m certainly willing, and I assume that everyone who posts on the blog would help too.
I hope that the Leopold supporters will ask to sit down with people like me to work out a solid process and plan to address overcrowding at Leopold and facility needs throughout the district. I want to relieve the overcrowding. I will vote for a solution based on a review of all of the alternatives, even an alternative that costs more than building a second school at Leopold.
Who will invite me, Don Severson, and other “no” voters to talk with them?