November 19, 2014
The below is by Board Member Victoria Purvine written in response to the 7 questions posed to the board by the superintendent about the failure of the third bond attempt. The below was also emailed to the CEA in response to their letter where they stated they believed there was inconsistency in the “arguments” against the bond.
I have spoken numerous times during the last year and a half on what I believe would keep our students and staff safe and that I believe would have support of the community. Based on recent correspondence, there appears to be some misunderstandings between what I have said, and what is being heard. To help with this, I am putting my responses to the Superintendent’s questions to the board for tonight’s meeting in writing.
Do you think a bond can pass without full support of the Board?
Yes. If people believe in something it doesn’t matter what someone else says or believes, and if they don’t, again, it doesn’t matter what someone else says or believes. As one Corbett resident stated a few months ago at a Board meeting, 90% of the community doesn’t know the Board is not united, and the other 10% doesn’t care. Stop putting the blame on the two board members.
Is it safe to leave our students in the current middle school building?
I believe it is just as safe as it was when my children attended a few years ago. The difference is we have doubled, or come close to doubling, the population in the building since 2008 so it is now crowded and likely to be uncomfortable for students and staff. I have received no Official State notices saying the building is not safe.
Do you think our students deserve to have facilities that are up to industry standards for square footage per student?
I believe our students had the required industry standards regarding square footage until we brought in too many out of area students. It was a conscious choice on the part of the Administration and Board to increase the student population of Corbett. At no time during any of these discussions was square footage brought up as an issue.
Less than one year ago the Board had the recommendation of the Superintendent that we open enroll what appeared to be all of the Charter students into the District for the 2014-2015 school year. If the issue was truly about the industry standards for square footage I would have expected it to be brought up then, when the Board could have added that information to deliberation. At that time, the Board would have had to limit the number of students coming in to adjust for the square footage, or decide they were not going to worry about the issue. It feels to me, and to others who have been voting No, that the overcrowding came first, as a direct attempt to push for larger facilities.
Was the last bond measure extravagant with regard to square footage per student?
Yes, for our base population it is extravagant. For our base plus the historical 200 out of area students the District has carried on its books it would still be extravagant. If we continue to run 600-700 out of area students then it would not be. However, I am hearing from many residents, who are voting no on these bonds, that one of the reasons for voting against the additional square footage is to limit the overall student population that is being brought it.
You can say no more students will be brought in, but the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, and our past behavior as a District has been to put classrooms in libraries, in meeting rooms, faculty rooms and to move walls to make classrooms. Trust has been a major issue mentioned at public meetings and I think the District needs to create a new track record before those who have watched the changes trust the District to do what they say. The issue isn’t about whether the square footage is extravagant, but what the public really believes the District will do with it.
If that same bond is floated in March or May will you support it?
If not why? If yes why?
I will not support the bond as it is – as it does not actually address all the safety issues on the campus that we were told needed attention. This bond would also significantly increase the overall square footage of instructional space.
At one point during the board discussion a board member stated he didn’t care how much the bond was, as long as the new 25,000 sq foot building was funded. That to me was not the idea behind the bond. I thought the bond was supposed to address student and staff safety. I think if, as a board, we had put out a bond that was truly about making the students and staff safe, and put that before the voters, we could be a year into construction at this time.
At any time during this process the Board could have had an open, unscripted discussion about what Board members believe, and what they could support. It is my experience that all discussions have been guided and controlled.
The Board has been given pre-written, leading questions with yes or no responses, matrixes to force answers into specified boxes, and have been directed to focus on what the 19 out of 60 remaining members of the facilities steering committee said in their findings, not the voice of the voting public on the last three bonds.
To see in the Oregonian that the Superintendent is saying that we may have to shut down the middle school and find alternate places to house students when there has been no re-looking at options or starting from scratch, but rather hanging on to the plans that the voting community has rejected now for the third time, feels like additional scare tactics. A “give us what we want, or we’re going to close your school” instead of a “we’re going to go back to the drawing board and give you the voters a plan that we as a board have worked out together” option.
I feel it is premature for the Superintendent to say every choice is bleak when I don’t believe every choice has been offered, or some that have been offered, listened to. On the other hand, if we shut down the middle school and put the students in the gyms in temporary classrooms, most likely the square footage issue in the middle school will resolve on its own, as I can’t imagine parents bringing their students up to that situation.
Trani said if voters continue to reject the district’s requests for money, the school might eventually have to be shut down. Then, “we’d have to get creative” to find ways to house the 272 students who would be displaced. “At this point, every choice is bleak,” he said.
What bond would you support? Be specific.
I would support a bond that is truly about safety. Originally the numbers showed that for between 8-10 million all the safety concerns on the campus could be fixed, including fixing or replacing the Middle School at 15,000 sq. ft. I would also be supportive of moving the Administrative offices out of the MS building and either across the street (if we could purchase the land at a reasonable cost) or on the old GS building site. That would open up space for classroom use or a science lab. I believe there are ways to get the students and staff safe and in a good educational environment if the board works together.
If the push is to shut down the Middle School if the next bond doesn’t pass I will not be able to support the bond, as I do not believe in those tactics.