by Mel Griffith
Recently the Cleveland School Board discussed a shortage of furniture and teachers. Some members claimed to have just learned about this need while others said that the information had been around for years. Seems some folks over there may not have been paying attention to business. After some discussion the board came to its usual conclusion. It was all the fault of the County Commission, which, of course, had nothing to do with the situation. Maybe they could save discussion and just put up a sign that says "Whatever is wrong, it's the County Commission's fault." Its always easier for them to shift the blame instead of accept it and try to fix the problem. In their version of things, if only the County Commission would "step up to the plate" it would solve all their problems. What they mean by this phrase is that if the Commission would regularly shower them with lots of money, they wouldn't have to manage well.
When the city school board talks about the Commission "stepping up to the plate" it raises an interesting question. Where have they been the last ten years? Don't they read the paper? Is their TV broken? How can they be unaware that the Commission has "stepped up to the plate" numerous times since 1998 for a total of about $80 million of taxpayers money, a big chunk of which the city school system got and much of which is still to be paid for. Too bad the city didn't manage its share very well.
For comparison, Waterville School was built to hold 600 students for about $6.7 million, including land. There has been inflation since it was built and it is estimated that duplicating it today would cost ten to ten and a half million. How much did Mayfield School cost the city? Reportedly about $16.5 million and it is smaller than Waterville. Can you say "Extravagance?"
The reason for all this extravagance is supposed to be because that is what the city citizens demanded. That's fine. Let them raise city taxes high enough to pay for whatever they want. Don't expect county taxpayers to support the city in a style they can't afford themselves.
If all this extra spending produces much better education, why aren't city test scores much higher than those in the county? And if the city system is so great, why are there huge numbers of city students in the county school system, but far fewer county students in the city system?