From: Steve Schild
Winona Area Public Schools Board
Absent from the Post’s March 11 story about Save Our Schools (SOS) is this key fact: The SOS plan won’t work.
• It’s not pay-as-you-go as SOS claims. It goes in the hole in the second and fifth years of its 10-year span. In its first six years, it gives capital funding to only two Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) buildings. The others get nothing.
• The SOS plan provides less than half the amount WAPS needs for deferred maintenance. It says nothing about how those costs would unquestionably grow as years go by.
• The SOS plan ignores — literally makes no mention of — the $15.5 million in deferred maintenance at Winona Middle School and the Area Learning Center (ALC).
• The SOS plan doesn’t put any money into Winona Senior High’s $15.5 million deferred-maintenance needs for nine years. When senior high finally gets some money, it’s a fraction of what’s needed, $3.95 million, which would be an even smaller fraction of the costs nine years from now.
• The SOS plan provides not a nickel for and no explanation of how it would pay for its promise to “invest in classroom teachers and smaller class sizes.”
• SOS has provided not a single real-life example of the “creative” or “out of the box” funding on which it says we should rely. It hasn’t told us of a single situation where a public school system gets ongoing grant funding (free money) for operational expenses.
Also, some things passed off as possible solutions raise more questions than they answer. For example, Fran Edstrom recently raised the issue of selling the middle school and high school. Then what? Where would we put those students? Where would we find land? Where would we get the money? Isn’t it certain that the sale of those buildings wouldn’t bring enough money to replace them? Do we want to lose the high school’s $3 million Kolter Wing? Do we want to lose the middle school, one of our newest buildings?
Another point: The SOS plan provides no money to help kids who struggle academically, guaranteeing that they will continue to be underserved.
Regarding schools and community: What neighborhoods and communities need most from schools is that they work, that they function effectively, educationally and financially, individually and as part of the entire school district. Our current elementary system doesn’t work as well as it could, because the expense of buildings we don’t need eats into what we should spend on kids and programming.
Citizens have to decide whether we want to base the future of public education here on wishful thinking or on facts. And the facts, available to anyone who wants to see them, make clear that failing to close buildings guarantees financial ruin for WAPS and continued cuts to programs our students need and deserve.
Note: I speak for myself here, not for the entire School Board.