From: Steve Schild
Winona Area Public Schools first district director
Why should taxpayers be on the hook, apparently forever, for five elementary schools when the entire elementary population can be accommodated in two buildings or, at most, three? Can SOSA justify that on the basis of enrollment? Economics? Educational efficacy?
If the status quo that SOSA wants to perpetuate works so well, why are test scores so low? Why can’t we afford remedial help for kids who need it? Why is WAPS in such financial difficulty?
Where would the money come from that would, you say, allow WAPS to “invest in classroom teachers and smaller class sizes to benefit our own students and teachers”?
Why, according to documents you presented to the School Board, does the high school get no money for capital needs until 2028? It has $15.5 million in deferred maintenance needs right now; when, a decade from now, you finally “give” the high school some money, you give it $3.95 million? How does that work?
Why does your plan say nothing about key planning criteria established by the Facilities Task Force last fall, including:
• Finding savings of at least $800,000 annually in facilities costs
• Providing special education services to all children at their home school
• Providing Title I (remedial help) services in all elementary buildings
• Providing consistent, on-site availability of student support services such as nurses, counselors, school psychologists, social workers and administrators to all children at their home school
• Providing a safe, secure and healthy learning environment for all students and staff
• Efficiently providing quality meals for all students to enhance learning readiness
• Creating an environment that could accommodate a modified school calendar?
Are SOSA members so concerned about Winona’s “urban core” because they live and work there and expect the entire school district to operate according to what works best for this small, self-interested group of people?
Without convincing answers to these questions, taxpayers might reasonably conclude that SOSA’s “plan” is nothing more than the same kind of misleading data dump made in a brochure distributed before last November’s referendum. I can’t help but wonder if the recent SOSA “plan” and the misleading Save Our Schools Committee brochure were put together by the same people. We may never know, because the SOSC brochure didn’t identify its members.
Right now, the ball is back in SOSA’s court. If your “plan” is truly workable, you should have no trouble providing specific answers to the questions I’ve asked. The time for glittering generalities is long gone.
And, of course, the standard disclaimer: The questions asked and opinions expressed here are mine, not those of the School Board.