The Cart Before The Horse – An Incomplete And Unfair Process
A 30-year commitment to spend $28,000,000 of your money, on top of yearly budgets in excess of $60,000,000, with so many unknowns that could inflate those figures dramatically, is what you, as Citizens of Brunswick, may be asked to swallow by your own town government. Never mind the shirking of their responsibility, the School Board is doing this based on opinions of their own consultants, omitting critical input from state experts who have access to state funds and who could provide valuable third party input and context as to the actual condition of either our elementary school or the junior high. That input could save us taxpayers millions of dollars.
There is an important and relevant document on the state Board of Education web site called “State Board of Education Rules For Major Capital School Construction Projects”. (click on horse image to see BOE document) It defines an unbiased process, which includes a questionnaire, a state team of inspectors, and a final evaluation to determine not only need, but also ranking based on that need. So why is the collective government of Brunswick ignoring that process, evaluation, opinion, and possible state funding? Why did the School Board decide in their first request to put a new elementary school and junior high on the same bond request for a referendum ahead of any state review process? If it was because they thought they wouldn’t receive state funding, there had to be a reason, and the only logical one seems to be that the state inspection “process” would not see Coffin Elementary as a critical funding need. If the School Board has their way, supported by the Town Council, we will never know, $28,000,000 dollars later.
Part two of the shell game came on the 6th of February when the Town Council was asked, by the School Board, to remove the junior high from the bond issue for fear that the intelligent voters would say no to the more expensive elementary school and yes to the less costly repairs. No attempt was even made to hold off until we applied to the state, not only for funding but also, again, for an equally important unbiased state review process. There were always the same excuses about not delaying any longer on a new school, but never a mention about seeing how the state experts might determine our true needs.
Of course we now have the third move of the “pea” in the shell game using a totally inexplicable lack of logic or creativity. They, the Brunswick School Board, don’t want the state to blow their cover on the elementary school, so the intent is to dump that on the uninformed (and now hopefully totally confused) Brunswick citizens. Now we are told they do not care to repair the junior high since it was taken off the original bond request. That issue is now being used as new alternate choice for state funding since a new junior high, without being repaired, has a better chance of getting state attention, or not, than one that has been repaired. Got that? Does the word “finagle” come to mind?
What all this maneuvering has done is to try and take attention away from any attempt to get an unbiased review by the state, a service we pay for through the state tax on our income, of the original supposed need for a new elementary school. That issue is now being made to look like a new “lesser of two evils” scenario when, originally, it was the only option. Shell game, bait and switch, smoke and mirrors, call it what you want. It is clear that all this activity is designed to manipulate the citizens of Brunswick to get the end result our town government prefers, not the one the citizens can afford or one that has been properly and thoroughly reviewed and vetted.
The old saying “measure twice and cut once” applies here. Applying for state “review” and funding must always be part of “the process”, prior to any referendum or creating debt and raising our taxes on costly issues such as these. Then we would have a validated reference point, not just one designed to manipulate and achieve an ill advised and unaffordable end result. Not taking the time to elevate this process to a “state” level is a clear sign that there is little respect for the opinion, concerns and intellect of the citizens of Brunswick.