In late February 2012, a survey was sent to the patrons of the West Franklin school district concerning issues regarding the repair of existing buildings, possible closing of some facilities and the possibility of moving students to one location and building new buildings at that location. Space does not allow me to show the results of the whole survey, but copies are available.
Patrons were given three options from which to choose.
Option 1 was to pass a bond issue, close the elementary schools at Williamsburg and Appanoose, and bring all the students to Pomona, along with new buildings at Pomona. The estimated cost was suggested to be as much as $20 million.
Option 2 was to pass a bond issue, close the Williamsburg elementary school, move all the students in grades pre-kindergarten through fourth grade to the Appanoose school, and have all fifth-graders through eighth-graders, and high school students go to Pomona. Upgrading buildings at Appanoose and Pomona, along with new buildings at Pomona, would come at an estimated cost of $10 million.
Option 3 was to keep all schools open with all students going to their current schools, pass a bond issue, and make improvements to all facilities. The estimated cost was estimated at about $12 million.
The results of the survey, as an overall percentage from patrons in Appanoose, Pomona and Williamsburg were as follows:
Option 1: 11 percent strongly favored it; 11 percent favored it; 20 percent opposed it; 52 percent strongly opposed it; and 6 percent didn’t know
Option 2: 9 percent strongly favored it; 19 percent favored it; 20 percent opposed it; 45 percent strongly opposed it; and 7 percent didn’t know.
Option 3: 24 percent strongly favored it; 24 percent favored it; 19 percent opposed it; 25 percent strongly opposed it; and 7 percent didn’t know.
Another question asked, “If one of these options were selected, would you continue to send your student to West Franklin?”
Option 1: 32 percent said yes; 17 percent said no; and 51 percent said not applicable.
Option 2: 30 percent said yes; 19 percent said no; and 51 percent said not applicable.
Option 3: 44 percent said yes; 7 percent said no; and 50 percent said not applicable.
Looking at the survey results, Option 3 has, without a doubt, the highest percentage of patrons in favor of maintaining the existing buildings, and also the highest percentage of patrons continuing to send their children to West Franklin.
So, I guess my questions are as follows: Why are the superintendent of schools and the school board going against the wishes of West Franklin patrons by not moving forward with Option 3, as chosen by a vast majority of the survey respondents? Why did the board already buy ground at Pomona on which to build new buildings before a bond issue was even presented? (Take a look at the canyon we purchased with your tax dollars.) Why not get an option to purchase — then, if the bond issue passes, go ahead and purchase the land — instead of wasting our money if it never happens? (Confidence, I guess.)
Our enrollment has gone from 870 students before consolidation in the 2006-2007 school year, to 641 students in 2012, which is a loss of 229 students. It is very possible to lose another 50 to 100 or more students if Superintendent Dotson Bradbury and the board continue pushing to build new buildings at Pomona and move all students to Pomona. These school enrollment figures come directly from the West Franklin web site and from the community survey.
Each student we lose costs us somewhere between $3,500 and $7,000 in state aid, depending on how you do the math. How many students can we afford to lose, and how many of us patrons can afford multi-million dollar buildings we don’t have to have to continue with a working school system?
Bradbury said this survey fell on deaf ears. Who doesn’t understand what the patrons chose?
If a bond issue presents itself, please find out how much your taxes will rise, and for how many years. Find out how they actually are spending the money. And, most of all, ask why we aren’t doing as the patrons want — maintaining our existing facilities.
It has only been five years since the consolidation of our schools into the West Franklin school district, and can we honestly say we have better athletic teams, better scholastic scores (overall), cheaper busing and better communications to patrons? Did we save money and make our schools better? I think we all know the answer to these questions.
Save your school by voting “no” on this wasteful spending, higher taxes we can’t afford, and building of new buildings.
— Larry Milliken, Williamsburg