Sunday, November 29, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

(Updated Links)

Hello readers, and here’s hoping you had a very wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I meant to post something about being thankful, but could neither find nor make the time to actually sit down and do it. I will do so, however, some time before the end of the year…but since it’s already late now, my spider spirit has been guided to post something completely different.

Why do we sometimes wait so long before picking up the phone and catching up with old friends and family?

I pondered that question during a Happy-Belated-Thanksgiving call with a loved one who regularly volunteers for the District. It had been a while since I’d discussed the District in any depth with this individual (who was also unaware of my blog) – rendering our conversation spontaneous, and untainted by my own bias. I certainly gained some fresh perspectives from our chat.

In explaining the decision to close Buena Vista Elementary to its neighboring community, the District maintained that the necessary improvements to that century-old facility were cost prohibitive.

(Oh – maybe that’s why the District gave away the Buena Vista school building to the city for free. Hmm…but…then why did the District see fit to cram so many kids into the equally-aged Haunt Elementary – er, I meant to say Hunt Elementary School building – which along with its spooky sibling Ivywild Elementary, required far more extensive and expensive work than the Adams buildings to update?

And speaking of updating, is everyone aware of the one-way traffic inside Sabin, or the type of work that’s going on in connection with the West K-through-8 school consolidation? Hold on to your hats, friends, lest they be blown away by my upcoming post on the District’s capital improvement spending.)

This individual had an opportunity to help pack up what seemed to be a gazillion Buena Vista library books. Sadness permeated the atmosphere; evenso, at a certain point, curiosity moved this person to ask: “Where are all of these books going?”

“To the Warehouse,” came the answer.

“The Warehouse!” I sneered. “Maybe that’s the reason why Adams is crammed full to the brim with all of those T.V. sets!”

Let me explain. I mentioned in my “Travesty at Adams” post that I’d often peer through the looking glass of the school’s doors…and described all that I saw languishing there. The District’s response to my concerns was to cover up the rectangular panes of glass with long strips of construction paper to block my view.

So, when the surprise opportunity for an escorted tour of the building’s interior presented itself, I did eight handsprings of anticipatory delight in rapid succession.

We entered the building’s main hallway – which was strewn with assorted trash from the movers – turned the corner and stepped in to the gymnasium. I was astonished to see the rows and rows and rows of audio-visual carts standing there, each equipped with large televisions, VCRs and slide projectors; stretching from wall to wall, and packed so tightly that one could only sidle, I estimate there were at least 20 carts contained in each column and row – so, 400 in the gym alone.

I didn’t know what to say, so I kept quiet and we continued on.

The main hallways were clogged with a jumble of desks, bookshelves and chairs…and off to the side were classrooms packed full of Dell personal computers – at least 10 of which were equipped with wide-screen, flat-panel monitors. Making our way to the library, I was again rendered speechless, and simply did not know what to make of the wall-to-wall electronic equipment there – all of which appeared to be fully functional and up to date.

I was a little dizzy when we exited to the rear of the building and stood together in the sunlight. My escort and I began pelting each other with questions that began with “Did you happen to notice all of the …?” It wasn’t until later that I realized we’d forgotten to walk through the remaining wing of the building; I continue to kick myself for that oversight to this day.

Adams Elementary
Adams is in a purportedly “bad” neighborhood – even worse now, with a great big abandoned school building in its dead center; so why’s the District storing all of that expensive equipment there? Wouldn’t the Warehouse facility offer a more secure and appropriate housing for such an inventory? Or am I to presume the Warehouse is crammed too full with library books?

Of course, making sure the Adams building is filled to the brim with this, that and the other effectively prevents STAR Academy from utilizing even a portion of it.

It’s my understanding that the District plans to use the Adams building as an ad-hoc storage facility and “bargain mart” through the end of November. Employees come to Adams from across the District to “shop” its stockpiles of desks, chairs, audio/visual equipment, etc., and then take their selections back with them to whence they came – a lot like Christmas Unlimited, for my literate-but-po’ brethren out there. Some time before 2010, the District will donate any remaining surplus to charity.

Hopefully, this one-stop-shopping opportunity has been extended to everyone in the District, and not just the friends and family of Glenn Gustafson and his inner sanctum. And I’m just musing out loud here, but…what an awesome way to ensure that a “new” school like Swigert Space Academy had everything it needed.

There’s a link on the District’s website for the public to view and bid upon surplus equipment…but a visit to that link shows absolutely nothing. In what’s probably just a strange coincidence: while researching the recent sale transaction of the Bijou Alternative School, the name “Eddie Bishop” popped up in connection with a surplus school supply website that’s hawking – I’m not making this up – audio/visual carts.

I know I’m mathematically-challenged…but for me, these things simply do not add up; actually, they DO add up...and I just keep on adding and adding to the oddities and inconsistencies and coincidences I happen to stumble across.

Public schools provide so much to their surrounding communities besides educating children. In times of emergency, for instance, school buildings serve as emergency shelters for their neighboring communities. Parents lacking computers of their own can use their school’s public computer, and are often permitted reasonable use of fax machines and photocopiers. This – and much more – has been taken from the communities that saw their neighborhood schools close, and is evidence of the Administration’s total disregard for equity and parity.

Before being given away to charity, the equipment that remains after the District “shopping mart” has closed should be made available for sale to the general public; and at least some of what’s left over from that public sale should be donated to the communities hardest hit by the school closures. Given the right spin, such a gesture of good will and appreciation in return for years of community support could spiff up the District’s sullied image.

Come on, District Administrators; we are not sheeple. Are we not men? Are we not just?? Don’t you owe the taxpaying citizenry of the city of Colorado Springs better than this for the hard-earned dollars we’re forced to blindly surrender to you?

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