FPC Meeting: No Report

I’d like to report on the FPC meeting but can’t. I missed too much. You see, for much of the meeting there were too many simultaneous “mini meetings” going on in the back between school board members and administrators and, at times, something almost akin to heckling. Now, I admit to having a moderate hearing impairment on one side, but it was still one of the rudest displays I’ve ever seen by a bunch who are supposed to be professionals.

Confidence-inspiring it wasn’t.

25 thoughts on “FPC Meeting: No Report”

  1. It really is a shame that a group of volunteer citizens who fought hard for a school referendum would be heckled and belittled by those who will benefit from this referendum along with the students.

    This committee is doing nothing but trying to make sure that we get it right for the community. The committee is asking the hard questions and getting more information to make sure that the recommendation to the school board is the correct one.

    Wake up. You may have kids in the upper pipelines now but you have no construction to feed the lower classes in the near future. The new high school will not be occupied until Fall/2010. I think it very commendable that the committee is weighing out all possible scenarios. These “hecklers” during the past meeting should be greatful that there are those who care so much.

    I have said it before and I will keep saying it. The voters put a vote of confidence in this committee and this school board. If in any way that confidence is shaken, there will be NO 2nd referendum passed! We are just making sure that this district gets what it needs to keep educating the children of this district, today and tomorrow.

    Even if the new high school is a bit smaller and short one or two luxuries, it will be a far better building than we have currently.

    Once again, thank you to the committee for asking the hard questions during this economic downturn. We can always say we did our best.

  2. Ivan, if you and a few other key people weren’t on the committee, a lot of what needs to be asked and said would never be asked and said. A special shout-out needs to go to you, Mac, Tom Teresinski, Sal Bonanno, Ron Beldon and a couple other people whose names I don’t know yet.

    It’s a shame (not to mention kind of ironic) that such efforts should be met with bad behavior designed to (try to) shut you down.

  3. I’m too embarrassed to say that my best wasn’t good enough so I’m not giving up.

    I’m working on my report on this meeting but we’ve got some other issues we’re dealing with and I try not to write about an issue when I’m still angry. Feeble apologies extended.

  4. I am sorry I could not attend that meeting.

    I do wish to remind the lurkers affiliated in some way with the schools who read this blog but do not comment that many of you have future goals:

    If another referendum for the DeKalb Schools has any hope of ever passing again in any of our lifetimes, I suggest that you do right for the voters now or do not bother trying again for a really, really long time.

    If it was not for people like Mac and Ivan who are giving so much of their time, myself and many others in the community would have given up already.

  5. P.S. So did the same people who show up and blather on while Alderman Baker is talking show up to talk during the FPC meeting, or is this another crowd of hecklers?

    I’ve about had it with those hecklers when Alderman Baker talks.

    Didn’t their mothers teach them any manners?

  6. Several of us were promised by the school board president that he would address the situation that occurred Tuesday evening. It was to say the least very unprofessional of a group that up until that evening have acted very graciously.

    I can understand what it may look and sound like when there is conversation going on about possible cuts of this or that. They also need to understand that this is how good constructive ideas are born, through discussion. The discussions have not blamed anyone for anything. The FPC group is just trying to figure out how the economic situation that we are currently in is going to affect the district in the upcoming years. We have also been charged with making a recommendation to the school board for the second part of the referendum. My feeling has been from the start that the second part does not pass if we cannot hold the trust and faith of the community of voters who passed the $110 million referendum.

    I feel that even though the voters passed $110 million for the school board to use, I feel that many of those voters also voted to trust the board to do what was the best for the community. They did not vote for them to spend all of the money if they didn’t need to. Lose their trust and this community will wait for a long time to see another school referendum passed. This is just a simple fact.

    At the same time, if the high school is built a little smaller, we will make sure that it can be expanded correctly and according to design standards that we know work and will be able to be utilized in the future unlike those who designed buildings to have a 3rd floor added on. I am very impressed with the patience that the many senior FPC members are showing during this time. I also appreciate their patience and diligence while Mac and I ask questions and hopefully bring a little something different to this committee. They are very concerned with what they do and they do understand the legacy.

    Contrary to some peoples thoughts, I do believe that this committee would be asking some of these questions themselves but I do appreciate the fact that they have allowed myself with others to ask some additional ones. This community needs to know that when the FPC makes a recommendation, whether we all fully believe in the final decision, that every possible angle is being looked at and discussed. I thank the school board for allowing this process to continue after the referendum and so should the community.

    Maybe the hecklers will understand this process a little more and become more involved in it than being a bump in the road. Once again, a thank you to our fellow FPC members for bringing to the table what they do, I just wish I could have gotten involved a bit earlier.

  7. The civilian volunteers on FPC have devoted a lot of time and energy to this project and some of them have served for several years. They get a ton of credit for coming up with a plan that was acceptable to the majority of the community and it is amazing to me that so many have continued. This does not appear to be much fun; it is hard work and I bet some are sweating it because a lot of it is educated guesswork during this time of dramatically and uniquely changing circumstances.

    All the more reason to have everything on the table. There can be no sacred cows. There can be no tolerance for factions looking to shut down conversation about “their” cows. This is why I brought it up. These latest developments are quite disturbing.

    Robin, I consciously decided not to name names. This time. Besides, it would be really great if more people came to witness these proceedings for themselves.

    AFAIK the hecklers at FPC are not the same individuals as at city hall. However, most of them belong to the same club: Those receiving wages of tax dollars.

  8. Tom T must have been a little embaraessed to admit that over 80% of the 5 yr projected growth at the H.S. is now gone. His proposal that they cut at least $10 million from the costs was the bright spot of the meeting. It’s clear now that it’s going to cost the taxpayers more without the new housing construction they planned to help finance this ref.

    It appears to me that the District didn’t learn much from the previous refs about the special interests that participate in these things.

    Was it school board president Verbic that asked ‘am I on this committee’ when the vote was taken to keep the core size of the H.S. at 3000? The resolution passed 13 to 5.

  9. Anyone who can make sure the schools do not overspend on things the kids do not need and can save the taxpayers’ some money during these hard times has the opportunity to be a hero. That includes the architect and the bond company. There might be more not less business for them later if they can come out looking like heroes, too (although they are starting out in the doghouse for donating to the referendum campaign).

    For God’s sakes, trying to save some money on building costs is NOT going to cost the teachers or the coaches anything in salary. If anything, if the taxpayers do not have to blow as much money now for the buildings, then taxpayers might actually have something left over in order to pay for salaries later or for new football uniforms or whatever later.

    I could not attend so I do not know who heckled but for those who did, repeat this like a mantra instead of heckling next time:

    Screw over the taxpayers on the schools now and kiss the next referendum good bye.

    There is one thing that people in this town are really great at and that is remembering things that happened in the past for a long time.

    I thought the high school currently has 1,800 students. From where in the world is the projected future 3,000 for the high school core coming? Let me see if I have this right. If there are 1,800 students now, 3,000 would mean an increase of 60%. To get to 3,000 students, that means that roughly the overall population in Cortland, DeKalb, and Malta would have to increase by around 60%. Is that at all close?

  10. I would like to clarify something that Jim wrote. Why should Tom T. be embarassed Jim? It is because of Tom that Mac and I have some ground to stand on. It is also because of Tom T. that the FPC made the recommendation prior to the referendum that the committee if it were to continue after the referendum as on oversight group revisit the “Hazel” projection numbers.

    Jim, I’m very impressed with how the FPC members that have stuck around after the referendum have their heart in doing what is right by this community. I do not know who reads these blogs and am not looking to try to impress anyone by saying this. I am very impressed that since Mac and I requested to join the committee that we were very graciously accepted by at least 98% of the FPC committee. There has been some great questions and concerns brought up along with some great discussion. I am not looking for points or victories as much as I am trying to make sure that we do this right. To me, it is about education and giving our children the tools they need to survive in this more and more complex world and job environment. We also need to understand that if we overbuild and waste important dollars in areas that we do not need today, we can’t take care of the matters that have been highlighted for referendum part 2.

    Also not mentioned by you is that Tom T. is associated with CFAC which is the citizens group involved with making sure that the payments stay as they promised during the referendum. The fact that they have reorganized the bond sales from 1 to 3 saves the taxpayer close to $10 million in interest payments alone. They are also now looking at the posssibility of going to a 4 and/or 5th to see how much that would save in interest payments.

    Also after the vote was taken and a 13 – 5 tally was taken. Ron Naylor graciously asked the architect to also submit some revised numbers on the core. I understand that it was difficult to hear in the back but I feel that this should be mentioned. This is what I’ve been saying that all the members feel that it is important to know the facts and so should you Jim.

  11. Also Jim, pertaining to the figures don’t lie but liars can figure. I truly hope that you are not accusing anyone of lying to the voters about the numbers.

    The numbers have changed and many of the numbers that we have now came from could discussions about the 3 communities that the district serves and how we thought that new construction will affect the enrollment numbers. I have never once looked at these numbers and thought that this committee lied.

    I am however thankful that they are taking the time to relook the numbers and are willing to be heckled about the fact that they are revisiting them.

    Jim, it is because of snide comments like this that many good people in this community do not step up and volunteer. I truly hope that this was not your intention with this comment.

  12. Amen, Ivan.

    The mortgage market moved from the tank even lower into the toilet bowl.

    At least one major developer went bankrupt in Cortland, others scaled back, and thus there may not be as many new houses going up.

    I have no idea if the price of corn going up means fewer farmers will be as willing to sell their cornfields to developers or not. I do know it is more difficult for developers to get loans to buy farmland, etc.

    Gas prices went up, sending shudders into people who live east of here who might have moved out here but now probably will not.

    Side Note: To anyone thinking about getting scooter or a relative or friend of someone making such a choice to save gas money, please remember that they are not nearly as safe as a car in an accident. I encountered a lady riding one this morning who probably had no concept that had I not paid careful attention to my surroundings, she would have been dead or on her way to Rockford Memorial in a helicopter. Motorcycles at least require instruction before one can get a license.

    Folks, please watch out for the clueless on scooters who have no idea what kind of a mess they will be in if they get into an accident.

    The next new city ordinance / state law, whatever should be requiring scooter riders to drive with their headlights on so people can see them.

  13. I got off the subject but for anyone who needs the dots connected, the economy changed since the school referendum. So, the question then becomes, can we save some money or should we blow the entire $110 million now and build the biggest high school possible?

  14. I’ll add to what Kay wrote: another reason to reduce costs–besides no longer having the numbers to justify the size, and the possible migration out of DeKalb leaving us holding the bag–is that there will be cost overruns associated with the road improvements if we don’t save some bucks on the building.

  15. I won’t accuse anyone of anything. However it was obvious that the economic numbers were changing right before our eyes during the run-up to the referendum. Further, it was obvious the numbers used were flawed because the demographics were wrong. The housing moratorium and subsequent fall out were not considered but glossed over by the district. So call it what you will and say what you will about me. The point is that what was passed will not pay for what it was supposed to. If that makes people like me obstructionists and naysayers or a….nuisance, then so be it.

  16. Paul, I’m apt to agree with you but there is not much I can say. This group within the FPC did the best they could. I kind of blame myself for not getting involved a lot sooner with this committee. I just wonder what a few more good intentioned volunteers with varied backgrounds could have offered this committee.

    I think this is a great example are getting involved can and does matter Paul. I am at greatful that this group has allowed me to join in on the discussion. I do believe that says much for this group of volunteers.

  17. Ivan:

    I agree. Hindsight being 20-20, I really thought the referendum came together late, at least for discussion once the FPC had made its recommendations. I had heard some cost-saving suggestions made before it had been adopted by the board but they were rejected. One of the ideas was to build the new HS for 2,000 capacity with room to add-on (a common refrain in these parts), but that was rejected out of hand. I can’t understand the refusal by the appropriate parties to consider a capacity reduction when it will be a LONG time before we approach that number.

    Having said, I echo yinn’s remarks about gratitude for the volunteers on the FPC, although I will extend that gratitude only to the ones wanting to compromise, work for responsible spending, etc. Anybody else: I’m just suspicious of an agenda.

    Yinn: You were looking in the dictionary this morning and saw my picture next to that definition, didn’t you? ;-)

  18. Kudos to practical FPC members trying to rein in the members with rose-colored glasses and strike a compromise. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pattern in the school district administration to push their own agenda at all costs, regardless of practicality, because they know what’s “best.” “In loco parentis” run amok.

  19. Next FPC committee meeting is Wednesday, August 20, 2008, at 6:30 pm at the DeKalb School District 428 offices.

    This could be the most interesting meeting since the referendum. This could also be a meeting that would be really nice to see some support from the public for those who are asking the hard questions.

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