There's nothing like the prospect of raising folks' property taxes by hundreds of dollars to get the creative juices flowing. I've proposed my alternative construction and school schedule to save Madison Central School District taxpayers millions of dollars and avoid the need to build a new high school gym. My neighbor Gerry Lange sees philanthropy as a better funding source than a tax hike in a shaky economy.
Now neighbor Charlie Johnson offers another alternative that strikes my fancy: demonstrate our educational priorities by skipping the new gym and building a fine arts annex:
In the whole scheme of things, why don’t we just build a brand new fine arts annex to the west side of the high at a fraction of the cost of the plan proposed. Then leave the present PE gym in the high school as is with some updates to the locker rooms. The way it is now we are using music and band as pawns to tear out gym space so we can justify 8 million plus for alumni basketball seating.
Charlie hits the nail on the head. Our school district has concocted a deliberately complicated architectural shell game, removing an entirely practical phys ed and athletic practice space, shoehorning a complex of classrooms and performance space into it, and thus making it seem that we just have to build another sports space. This is semi-blackmail: give us our new gym, or we'll say you killed the new facilities for music and theater!
If we're determined to build new space, why not keep the old high school gym for the purpose it serves and build new arts space from scratch to better meet our students educational needs?
Charlie isn't wholly against building a new gym. He just thinks our school tax dollars ought to focus on schooling, not varsity sports and bigger bleachers. He thinks an events center would be a fine development for Madison, but that such a facility ought to be a joint project of the city, college, and private donors, with the school district chipping in to rent the space for occasional big games. There's even a great spot for such an event center, right on the corner of Highways 81 and 34.
Think of it: instead of tucking a big events facility away in northeast Madison, in the middle of a residential neighborhood where basketball parking and traffic clogs neighborhood streets, we could have a spectacular events center right on the highway, where everyone who comes through Madison will see it. Now there's a sports facility I could get behind.