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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Board OKs Madison New Gym, HS Renovations; Angles for Green Vote

The Madison Central School Board green-lighted (green-lit?) the new gym and high school renovations project at its regular meeting last night. The Madison Daily Leader also continued its campaign of spin and obfuscation, referring solely to "renovations" and "new space" and not once mentioning the biggest single item in the $16M package, the new gym.

The school board is clearly alarmed by the bad press here in the blogosphere. In an effort to stanch opposition and bring Madison's busiest blog on board with the project, architect Jeff Nelson is throwing an obvious bone to the green commentariat:

Jeff Nelson, Baldridge and Nelson president, told the board members that his firm could start working on a "full-blown package." He said that the package would include a complete floor plan and an energy study that would consider utility cost savings and possible renewable energy use, such as solar and wind generation [Chuck Clement, "Madison School Board Says Yes to Renovations," Madison Daily Leader, 2010.10.11].

Oh! Solar panels! Wind turbines! Well, I'm totally on board now. Forget I said anything bad about building a luxury gym or trying to hide this unnecessary project behind educational necessities. Slap a solar panel on top, and I'm all for it, right?

Actually, I wold be quite pleased to see our high school follow the City of Colton's lead and move toward energy self-sufficiency. But watch: someone will discover that the low thrum of the wind turbines would distract our Bulldog free-throw shooters, and then the turbines are out.


  1. Where is the funding coming from? This was brought to the board's attention at the meeting but apparently not even the newspaper is concerned about this.

  2. Nonnie, the current school board probably has options such as a Bond Issue which does temporarily increase taxes similar to how the swimming pool raised taxes. They may also have some options using Capital Outlay Certificates, however those were used in building the new Madison Grade School, and that was a tight financial fit. Valuations have increased and the Middle School Capital Outley Certificates are paid off, so perhaps it will be a combination of funding mechanisms. If Capital Outlay Certificates are used, your property taxes won't go up, but they also won't decrease as long as the district is using its full 3 mils. A bond issue involves a public vote, but capital outlay certificates do not.

  3. From what I understood last night, the capital outlay fund has approximately 11-12 years left to pay off the elementary school which pretty much negates any capital outlay money to a school gym project. Sorry, but that is what I am calling it since the school board and paper refuse to even mention the gym and refers to it as a health and physical education area. So if this is going to be built in two years, and that is the timeline they are hoping for, how else would it be paid for than property taxes? Any other ideas I mentioned last night which you had mentioned in this blog, Rod, were basically poopooed as being impossible to do. I simply asked the board to think about the funding also because that is where the community impact is. The swimming pool tax was a very small tax and I don't think people even noticed it much. The tax increase for the school gym project will be huge for property owners, and this needs to be addressed.

  4. Linda, I'm betting taxes will go up for this project, one way or another. And even if we had $16M saved up in capital outlay, it's still tax dollars being spent primarily on something we don't need, at the expense of more investment that we could be making in the things we do need (like a state of the art theater/performance space—unless that's just one more thing the board is planning but keeping quiet about). It's also spending capacity that we're locking up in a new gym that we won't be able to spend on other priorities that may arise in the coming 10-20 years.

    Linda, I'm curious: how are your Winfred neighbors making out under the new "ag productivity" tax regime? Are their assessments remaining level, or are their tax bills changing? I've heard some grumbling over the changes. it occurs to me that if landowners are already owly over the new tax scheme, it may be a really bad time to ask them to shoulder a tax increase for a new gym.

  5. Now that the school board has said "yes" - which didn't surprise me, since in the 20 years I've lived up here I've never seen the school board hesitate to spend Madison's money - when do we get to say "no"? This is not the time to build a new gym: this is the time to concentrate on educating the kids. If you're going to spend $16 million plus, hiring teachers, expanding educational programs, etc. would make a lot more sense than one more massive sports appropriation. Playing sports in a new gym (which will be soon outdated, you can bet on it) isn't going to help the athletes get a job. All it does is give alumni something to do while claiming they support the kids.

  6. Eve, it sounds like the board plans to put the bond issue straight to a public vote. They'll get the detailed plan from the architect, publicize that, then have us vote. I don't recall the timeframe, but it seems that, given the work that's already been done, the board could toss the issue to voters around the same time as the school board election in April... which would be an interesting time for interested readers to circulate their petitions for the pleasure of serving.

    And I remain strongly with Eve: If we really can afford $16, let's spend it on educational necessities, not a luxury gym.


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