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Friday, September 14, 2007

School Beat; Plunkett Raysich: The Options Review: The Analysis: OPEd.

(Ed. note: This is an Oped on a section of the Plunkett Raysich report. It will be featured on the right hand column of the Evansville Observer along with the original video and a pdf of the report. The current Building and Grounds Committee is beginning to act on some aspects of the Plunkett Report, and citizens will be involved. Stay tuned.)

The Options Review in the Plunkett Raysich study was incoherent. Even the senior consultant in the presentation on video said all of the options were unsatisfactory and he added one of his own.

After participating in many of the meetings, and reviewing the film several times, here is my summary:

Two years ago, Mr. Jerry Roth, former principal of the Middle School, mentioned at a school board meeting, that the logical site for a middle school was where the current elementary and intermediate school is----its proximity to the athletic fields as well as proximity for students in accelerated classes makes it perfect. Most participants agree that this is so.

The one caveat to this is that the oldest part of the facility---Levi Leonard would have to be razed and depending on how many middle schoolers were projected, a new portion would be necessary. Quality construction. Two story. With the result that the current site would have more space added to grounds. The site would become more adequate.

Now that we have that piece of the puzzle---we need a new elementary school---Grades K through 8. The issue that arises is whether it should be one or two elementary schools. That is open for discussion. The most efficient choice is is ONE school k-8. No need for two principals. etc. Should it be close to the current school location? I think the consensus is---- Yes. Should the purchase of the land be soon? I think the answer is-- yes. Assuming that 5-10 years in the future is the opening of the facility.

What to do with the Middle School------the Middle School would be repurposed-----What would this consist of? There are many ideas on the table. The problem with many of these ideas is that they do not remove the expenses of the site from the equation--the expense to the taxpayer that is. The current middle school is inefficient. It would not be efficient, just by using it for example for adding a role for the school system, such as a 4K program.

Here are some of my ideas on repurpose:

1. The location for AWARE and the Dean Center was never logically the ceremic shop. If it was located in the current middle school, next to the gym, it would work out nicely.

2. The Library: The current Eager Free Library site is not ever going to be adequate for the parking necessary for expanded use. A formal Plunket Raysich study would reveal this site inadequacy. The original gift was for a library--it will remain one, and a state of the art one to be proud of. I would much prefer using the current Eager Library as a Computer Library, and Videoconferencing center, with 20 computers on the main floor and two conference rooms downstairs.

A second Evansville Library would be located in the current middle school, with the whole first floor opened up.

On the third floor of the current middle school--where the current library is, could be the Internet Charter School---it could house the faculty and the technology to add internet students to the Evansville School District---revenue positive. The lack of internet options for special students as well as internet literate students is one of the current reasons for net loss of open enrollment students for our district. Parents want options. Internet education is one of them. To be competitive, we must offer choices.

This scenario would require the cooperation of the City of Evansville as well as the Evansville School District in a joint agreement. It is unclear what the the details of such an arrangement could be, but the consultants, Plunkett Raysich represented themselves as experts of designing such relationships.


  1. Anonymous10:01 PM

    As great as this all sounds, I just don't see this working out in the long run. A lot of costs will come from this project, which will make many say no to this project. No matter how amazing and better our city will be with this, it will get shot down through referendum.

  2. randy8:49 AM

    why do they keep looking for ways to spend money when there is none. I do believe I read there has bee a decline in school enrollment. We all know building is at a stand still.

    I have a older house and would like to add on a walk in attic, I have always wanted one of those.

    How feasable is this for my family?? NOT, unless I have the good taxpayers of Evansville pay for it.

    Oh that's right I don't have the option of wasting tax payer money just because I don't like what I already have and it works.

    Anon is correct it will never make it through ref.

    If there were happen to be a part a and b to this ref. I will vote NO to both.

    I learned my lesson the last time.

  3. Anonymous8:32 PM


    I agree but, the last time we did not vote for the first referendum they raised the price and it was voted in. I hope that does not happen again. Talk to the School Board Members and let them know to stop this stuff.

  4. Anonymous4:30 PM

    The school WAS looked at as an option for the youth center. But, as youth centers are to serve as a place for kids to be outside of school and for kids who may not 'fit in' at school it was not an ideal or logical choice. Youth centers, while work closely with schools, do not have the same goals as schools.