Corbett Rejects the past two bonds

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A bond must be based on the actual needs of our school district and include third party independent analysis of the growth and growth potential of our resident population. We believe that all citizens should be allowed to ask questions and expect answers from the school board and our school district without fear of retaliation.

We expect our board members to begin the work of  finding consensus as to what Corbett can support, before one more crisis situation directs their votes and our tax dollars.

Setting the Record Straight

By Karina Lande – Corbett resident, parent of 2 district students, and SOS PAC member. (November 6, 2013)

The people who voted no on the Corbett school bond did not do so because we want to divide this community. We did not vote no because we don’t care about the quality of the students’ education. We did not vote no because we’re in denial about the condition of the buildings. We most certainly did not vote no because we don’t care about the safety of the kids, many of those who voted no have kids in those buildings too.

We voted no because we have an administration and school board who has not put forth a well researched solid plan. We do not agree with handing over $15 million and letting them decide later what they may or may not do with said money, as they stated. (Select here for audio from the board meeting.)

We voted no because this bond process has been riddled with inaccuracies, half truths, word games, manipulation of facts and disguising of agendas from the get go. Statements such as “the verbiage change is to disguise the things those surveyed did not seem to want” is just one of many I have heard personally throughout this process. Select here for more to these points.

Scare tactics

We are not intimidated by scare tactics and ploys about how dangerous the school is, so much so that “the east wind could blow it down”, after standing since the 20’s in that same east wind?

The same scare tactics were used to originally close the Springdale school because of asbestos and build a new school on the main campus, now here we are having re-opened the Springdale school without, to my knowledge, removing that terribly dangerous asbestos….and now calling another building dangerously unsafe due to seismic needs and yes asbestos. Now it must be torn down and replaced too? Funny circle isn’t it?

If this building was as unsafe as they want you to believe then one would think that OSHA or the fire marshal would have closed it down. The fact is when we had the opportunity to actually put energy and funds into this middle school we chose to refurbish another old building where no students attended to the tune of almost two million dollars in loans.

So we spent millions on a building no students were in, all the while knowing another building kids were in, was so dangerous?

Yes the building is old, yes it needs either repaired or replaced but the cost of replacing the school itself is in the $6 million range. The other needed campus upgrades run around $2-3 million, definitely not anywhere close to $15 million. For many it is not about the money, if the needs truly amounted to $15 million and the other concerns of community members were addressed it probably would have passed. Many were even OK with some of the extras, but not at the cost of empty promises and no definitive proposal. It’s not because we’re too cheap to invest in our community with our wallets that this bond failed.


A lack of trust & continual crisis mode

Beyond the issues with the planning and research (or lack thereof), beyond the unethical tactics used, lies a deeper issue that has been brewing within Corbett for many years. This issue is two fold, one being the issue of trust & continual crisis mode that the administration perpetuates. The other being the charter school/out of area kids and the continual expansion of our small school that is now literally bursting at the seams.

The charter was created and then within one year it was expanded and its contract extended due to an unexplained $725,000  accounting error (computer glitch). The man who heads up the charter school was at the time also the superintendent of Corbett schools. That $725,000 still remains a mystery. The community was never brought into this plan, the community was not aware until after it was already happening. The community was told the numbers would remain small, however the charter has continued to add students on a steady basis.

Transfers are once again legally allowed and so even more out of area students have been continually brought in through HB3681. So much so that we no longer have a library in the grade school, this is now a classroom with about 70 kids. We no longer have a library at the high school, this too has become classrooms. We all acknowledge we need some out of area kids but we definitely do not need to keep adding more. We now have a total of 5 schools within Corbett, a community with under 1,500 households. (CAPS-Springdale, grade school, middle school, high school, and Charter school. ) Now there’s also discussions about a STEM school, which could be another charter, which would make 6 schools in our tiny community.


More classrooms and buildings = more kids

There has been a lot of word play around the number of classrooms of the proposed new building and gym expansion. The middle school with currently 9 to a new building with 11, a gym that has one lab to a new complex that has 5, that is 6 more classrooms right there. But if they count boarded up space in the basement and other areas not in use for years, they can claim we’re only adding one classroom.

We have plans of buying another 12-14,000 sqft building as old as the one they say needs replaced …yet this additional property has no intention to be used to house more classrooms? This purchase on top of replacing the middle school & adding an expansive fitness/theater/lab/gym complex?

There’s also an application with the county for conditional use that will raise our total allowed district numbers to  reach 1,730 students and staff with a clause included making it clear they will be allowed to ask for more if they add more space? Yet with all of these things listed above we are still supposed to trust that the schools won’t continue to expand?

The administration of our schools has proved time and time again it does not value the input of its community, and feels that since elected and or employed they can do whatever they see fit and answer to no one.


Ignoring the Nelsen Survey

The Nelson Group was brought in to survey the community regarding the bond. The results showed the community would support a bond only for the necessary base & safety projects to a tune of about $8 million. The administration completely disregarded this and put a bond out for $15 million instead.

If you voted yes because you wanted something that was mentioned, just remember there was no guarantee that specific project would be done because as stated, you were simply voting on giving them the money and they would decide later what to, or not to do with it, with zero further input of the community.

The Nelson Group also strongly recommended the administration address the communities concerns surrounding the out of area students BEFORE going for a bond, again this was disregarded.


So now here we sit with a failed bond

To all of you who are bitter about this and are spinning your wheels of angst at those who opposed this bond, I say to you, look to your administration and school board and not those who voted no. The writing was on the wall yet they chose to ignore it either because of over inflated egos or because they don’t value the members of this community enough to listen. Either way they are the ones you should be directing any animosity towards.

The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. We will need a solid plan and third party input, that our board and administration listens to, as to what our community can support.  There needs to be some real answers, the hard issues need to be addressed, we need a limit set on student population and a solid outline of what the future of Corbett schools will be. This needs to be decided with the community not against it.

We all want what’s best for our kids, we all want them to have a safe learning environment ….. to some of us waiting 6-12 months to do so even if it costs us more financially, is better than the continual costs of a community divided and attacked for asking questions. That coupled with the seemingly limitless expansion that is leading to the disappearance of our small town school & life style has become more than some of us are willing to take. We are simply standing and saying so, that’s all this has ever been about, regardless of the insinuations of others.

My hope is that we can all come together to tackle these underlying issues that have been ignored for far too long. Our schools may be good now but imagine how truly great they could be with the support of the entire community.

We need to give voice to all concerns, not just those that bring in compliments, but equally to those that bring criticism. Often there is much to learn from those critics and we should always be willing to learn. There is great opportunity here to rise as parents and neighbors to come together and meet in the middle so that we can find a common ground between those who want Corbett for its good schools and those who want a good school within Corbett.