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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

School Referendum Question & Answer: Part Two

Education, Germantown, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes

As mentioned in the January 30th Blog that inaugurated this series of discussions about a new elementary school in Germantown, we sought questions to be posed to Bruce Warnimont, Committee Chair of the School Board's Building Committee.

Question:  How do us citizens know that this proposal is truly the best of the alternatives that were considered?

Answer by Bruce Warnimont:  Perhaps an appropriate way to answer this question is to briefly recount the building alternatives considered over the past five years.

  • Building addition to Amy Belle:  Amy Belle's enrollment is constrained by the site's septic system, and the septic system is restricted by the lot size, system design and soil hydrology.  No expansion of this school can be done with any reasonable degree of feasibility and cost.
  • Building additions to MacArthur and County Line:  These schools are land-locked.  Expansion would require the acquisition of adjoining homes and their subsequent demolition.  Additional art and music rooms would be required, and gymnasiums would have to be enlarged.  Also, the entire buildings would have to be brought up to the most current building codes at tremendous expense.
  • Portable classrooms:  There's no such thing anymore.  The correct term would be 'modular classrooms' and they're nothing more than pre-fabricated buildings.  All of the other construction expenses, such as foundations and sprinkler systems, are required.  Local building codes prohibit them.  Plus, the same concerns expressed above for Amy Belle, County Line and MacArthur still apply.
  • Adding on to Kennedy Middle School and relocating fifth graders:  This would require a sizable addition of at least 14 classrooms, and would have to include more art, music, PE and lunchroom space.  Construction would have to be coordinated around the school schedule/year.  And again, the entire KMS building would have to be renovated to meet all of the current codes.
  • Renovate and re-open Highway View School or remodel the Administration Building (Victory Center School) for use as a half-day Kindergarten building:  This would only solve the Kindergarten issue, to a degree, and does not address any of the over-population issues in other grades.
  • Build a new Kindergarten-only building, or K-1 building:  This would cost nearly the same as a K-5 building but with higher transportation costs.
  • There is a non-building alternative:  Do nothing.  The immediate consequence to this option would be to realign attendance boundaries to conform to the restrictions on Amy Belle School, compounding the crowding at County Line and MacArthur.  And, abandon the full-day Kindergarten option, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in state aid (with a corresponding increase in local taxes).  Other losses would probably occur, as well, but since I'm charged with recounting 'knowns' rather than 'beliefs', I prefer not to speculate, regardless of how probable those beliefs might be.

I want to thank Bruce for the time and attention he has given this question, and I'd like to invite comments and other questions from readers.  Comments are easy and might help your neighbors reach a good decision.    

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