Monday, May 26, 2008

Kindergarten Refresher for PG School Board?

"Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people."

There are few things more important to our community than our school system. This is why I was surprised to read this morning that the Prince George's County School Board has recently voted to invest $36 million dollars in brand, spanking new offices for themselves and their school administrators. Please see "Timing of School Headquarters Move In Pr. George's Is Criticized by Some."

I'm one of those criticizing them. Why would the administrators put themselves in better facilities than the children they serve?

"Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours."

When my children were in PG schools, I remember going to meetings at the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro to discuss the massive amount of deferred maintenance in the schools. So I figured that if the school board was buying themselves new digs, they must have caught up on all their school maintenance problems. They would never put their comfort in front of the safety and comfort of the children they serve, or would they? Here is what I found on the PGCPS Board of Education web site.

In September 2007, PGCPS hired Parsons 3D/I to perform an updated facilities condition assessment of 184 facilities (15.3M gross square feet). The purpose of this assessment was to determine the present condition of the facilities and to prepare a capital improvement funding plan required to maintain them.

Some of their findings:
- Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are antiquated, inefficient, and in need of major upgrades and/or replacement.
- Food service equipment is on average in poor condition, and 65% of all food service equipment is beyond normal life expectancy.
- Most buildings do not comply with ADA accessibility guidelines.
- Substructures are showing signs of settlement and water infiltration.
- Exterior building systems are showing signs of aging and deterioration.

Laurel area public schools had over $100 million in maintenance problems:
- Laurel High $31,066,348
- James H. Harrison Elementary $7,136,720
- Bond Mill Elementary $7,248,003
- Laurel Elementary $7,452,009
- Oaklands Elementary $6,029,400
- Deerfield Run Elementary $13,070,210
- Montpelier Elementary $9,463,852
- Oaklands Elementary $6,029,400
- Martin L. King Middle $9,002,537
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle $20,395,757

"Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together."

So can somebody explain to me, why the board is willing to spend money on their own offices before they repair our schools? I must not understand some of the details. Maybe one of our board or county officials will explain it to us in the coming days. What do you think? Please post your opinion in the comments section.

"All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school."

Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite authors. He is famous for an essay about life from a kindergartner's perspective. Those are his rules from that essay in bold above. You can read more here.



Anonymous said...

Well, on the face of it I agree with you, but then again, it might be worth a trip down to Sasscer building to investigate the conditions -- we don't want the Bd of Ed in degrading slum conditions either. If it is more cost effective in the long run to move to a different facility rather than make the repairs, then this might make sense.

Anonymous said...

all you have to do is drive by LHS on Cherry Lane to see the trailers that are in front of the school. Imagine walking to "class" in the rain, etc. This is a shame.

Keith said...

I believe that trailers were to be added at the high school while they do the major construction project that's due to start this summer.

Anonymous said...

Agendas come first. That's why they want to cut teachers, increase classroom sizes, but not cut any of the ridiculous middle-management positions that fill up offices all over Upper Marlboro and all of the Zone/Region/WhateverTheyAreCallingItThisYear offices. PGCPS wastes so much money, the fact that the parents haven't called for a referendum on ALL of its' top leadership is amazing. Of course, they pacify parents with nice news articles and press releases.... while we're still in the bottom half of test scores in the state and STILL under corrective action.

If children REALLY came first, you'd see a completely different school system. Students would have a better curriculum being taught at the elementary level, there'd be a REAL grading policy (you that doesn't inflate grades - it was fine last year, till they made some nonsense changes to it this year), and real discipline policies and not the nonsense they have in place now that cripple principals and teachers from enforcing EFFECTIVE discipline in schools, teachers would be taken care of MUCH better instead of treated as expendable (where the current mantra is 'blame the teacher first' even when the child sits in class and does nothing, openly defies authority and the parent does nothing to discipline the child...).

But it's not. So Personal Agendas Come First.