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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chuck Clement, MDL, Continue to Run Interference for Big Spending Madison School Board

The propaganda from Chuck Clement and the Madison Daily Leader on behalf of the Madison Central School District continues. In previous coverage of our school board's proposal to build a new gym and renovate the high school, MDL has buried mention of key terms like new gym. Now Clement's coverage of the school board's approval of a public vote on $16.98 million shows more propaganda by positioning.

Madison Central business manager Cindy Callies guesses the new gym and high school renovation will cost taxpayers $2 per $1000 of property value. If you own a $150,000 house, that's $300. Farmers stand to pay an average $411 more per quarter section.

One would think that financial data would be top priority information for most readers and taxpayers. One would thus think the journalistic urge would be to place that information at the top of the story.

But what journalistic choice does the local booster paper make? We hear first that the school approved the $16.98 million bond issue (good). Paragraph 2 says we vote on Feb. 1 (good). Then paragraph 3 reports this vital news: "No person attended the school board meeting to speak for or against the resolution or ask questions of the school board members or district administrators."

Translation: None of you showed up to complain or ask questions, so you have no right to vote against what we want.

The specific cost information doesn't come until paragraph 6. In traditional journalistic terms, the placement of details in this story says it's more important for the Madison Daily Leader to continue its function as propaganda organ for the school district and create the impression of lack of opposition than it is to report on the specific details of the proposal that voters must study and decide on February 1.

I'll be attending a school tour in the coming weeks, even though I already know the building and its physical needs from years of experience. I'll be recording and reporting on my tour. And I'll be advocating the position that I've already formed: I'll support the bond issue when they drop the unnecessary multi-million-dollar new gym.

My coverage of this bond election will be fully biased and subjective. At least I can admit that. I look forward to the day when Chuck Clement and the Madison Daily Leader will admit the same.


  1. Question for you Cory, would you support the building of a gym for the high school that is the size of the current gym? Or do you believe the two schools should attempt to share a gym?

    P.s. I realize that if I searched, I would find that you already answered this, but I am lazy.

    Matt Groce

  2. Nope. Remove the gym from the plan, and I support it.

  3. Well, we were out of town or we would have been at the meeting last night. It really doesn't make any difference if people come or not anyway; the board has its mind made up. We spoke at the previous meeting about the financial impact of this, and it didn't make an inch of impression. Mrs. Knowlton made a telling statement during the tour that we took that her big wish was that the MHS could hold graduation in its own 2500 seat gym with its own colors on the wall. Really? Is that a good reason to spend millions of dollars on a new gym?

    How close to reality are the guesses of what the cost will be? How many years will it take to pay it off? Keep in mind that many employees in this district have lost jobs recently, that many have not received raises, that people on fixed incomes have had no raise for two years. And don't forget the coming inflation now that we are monetizing our debt (if you don't know what this is or means, google it).

    Was any attempt made to do anything other than a cadillac plan based on the domino theory? Was any serious attempt made to find other sources of revenue for this project?

    I haven't seen or heard the word "gym" at all. The powers that be are getting smarter. But a gym is a gym, whether you call it a physical education facility, or new construction, or competition center.

    The school board and administration need to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars in this economy.

  4. There are very few comments, so either people want this thing (all the improvements) or don't want to be seen as grumblers on local issues. Sports argument aside, a better school will make a more attractive community. We do attract retirees because of our low cost of housing, but we need employers, and employers must look at school systems. It's a selling point. No?

  5. Linda Mc, my big wish is that my daughter be able to qualify for Nationals on a debate team that competes through the full season in all events, the way the Bulldog debate team did before Renee Nills became coach. We could make that happen without raising taxes one penny. Maybe Sharon Knowlton should get to work on that wish first.

    Totally a selling point, John. But I'm hearing more disgruntelment from students and parents who find that what takes place inside that building isn't getting kids ready for college. Yes, I want a good educational facility. The new gym is unnecessary for that. But whatever we build, we still need to improve what's going on inside.

  6. I don't think brand new buildings are the selling point when it comes to schools: it's how the kids are actually doing inside the buildings. What I've observed of both the Knowltons is a determination to get the surface shiny-bright and ignore the actual nuts and bolts of education. Thus, they had to have a new house for the DSU President, at a hefty price, rather than repair the old traditional house that every other DSU President had lived in. New "gates" for DSU campus; a new Science Center that is lacking storage space, etc., but certainly looks spiffy on the outside. And now a new gym for the high school. I've said it before, I'll say it again: school athletics only serves the alumni. It hurts student academics, by siphoning off time, money, and other resources that should go to the actual education that will give students a future.


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