Proponents of the FPS Bond tell tales of 50 to 60 year old school buildings to justify the need for a $186 Million Bond Proposal. They pretend to be unaware of millions of annual tax dollars and numerous bond issues provided by taxpayers to maintain and improve the school facilities. The latest bond issue was in 1997 for $95 Million that included new roofs and the remodeling of front lobbies of most if not all of the schools. Typical of school bond proposals, it included millions for each of the district’s school buildings to buy parents’ Yes vote.
Broken and taped chairs, broken floor tiles, cracked pipes, broken handrails, holes in walls, faulty electrical devices are all descriptions used to paint a picture of aged facilities. Yet none of these items are properly funded by the long term debt of a Bond Issue. Taxpayers provide $135 Million dollars a year to FPS. A modest 10% allocation to maintain and upgrade the taxpayers’ school facilities would provide each principal over $700,000 every year to address their building needs. The current 2.2% allocation and the claimed building needs describe the neglect and mismanagement of district facilities. The same neglect and mismanagement is the planned status quo for the $186 Million requested of taxpayers. Why do you pretend not to see the problem with this proposal?
Then there is the $20 Million to lock and monitor the front doors of the schools. The District already spent $200,000 to do this. Everybody’s reaction should be, let’s take the time to come up with another plan. Everyone can understand the concern, but rational evaluation and judgment is expected from the Board “Trustees”. The proposal is not a best practice. The proposal is doomed to fail to achieve its objective because the risk is so remote that the natural, predictable, and unavoidable consequence of complacency will leave other access points open to an intruder. Sandyhook had plenty of “lockdown and hide” plans. They proved to be flawed. Some, armed with only their initiative and intelligence, perished saving their students. A vigilant and involved community and effective preemption and response is the best practice, not hiding behind a barrier. The American lesson from Sandyhook is that a brave and heroic Principal should not have been forced to face evil with outstretched palms armed only with love, courage, and commitment to her staff and students. She deserved better from us. This flawed $20 Million proposal does not demonstrate that any lessons have been learned.
FPS just earned another recognition for “quality schools” that proponents wave as a banner issue of the Bond Proposal. However, the award’s measure of a “quality school district” is class size. There is no research that links class size to improved student learning. However research does show a direct relationship between teacher responsiveness and student achievement. The FPS Board triumphantly and defiantly parrots the Superintendent’s trite expression that achievement tests do not make a student. However research and effective educational reform does demonstrate that where real learning is achieved, higher achievement test scores follow. The FPS (4) Year MEAP record shows large groups of students of whom 70 to 80% cannot demonstrate proficiency in Math, Science, Social Studies, or Writing at any Grade level tested. The same nonperformance has occurred each year. There was no effective response to this total lack of instructional quality and student performance. The annual requirement to remediate FPS students by employers, universities, community colleges, and Farmington staff validate the existence of the District’s instructional delivery problems. This reality has nothing to do with District facilities. It has everything to do with accountability. This crisis should be the focus of the FPS Board with bi-weekly progress reports by the Superintendent. There is no effective system of staff accountability for the effectiveness of their classroom instruction. Why would you provide $186 Million on top of the $135 Million you provide every year without effective accountability for the use of your tax dollars to achieve student learning?
FPS is addicted to Federal Dollars and is saddled with Federal requirements and programming that undermines and burdens staff capacity to teach effectively on a daily basis. By any means necessary abuse and misrepresentation of statistics distorts coincidental factors into claims of cause and effect which add to other similar social engineering hijinks that have all but eliminated student readiness and accountability as a learning prerequisite. Staff is left with little support to maintain classroom discipline, the very foundation of improved student performance. Artificial and dysfunctional obstacles keep unprepared, disinterested, and misbehaving occupiers in the classroom to the detriment of the teachers, students, and effective student achievement. Likewise costly federally supported programming dilutes and misdirects district instructional resources from the effective achievement of the curriculum. FPS Staff is competent to achieve high levels of student achievement and learning. Taxpayers need Board “Trustees” and a District Superintendent who understand and are committed to educational reform and divorce themselves of Federal dollars and the requirements tied to those dollars to focus the District’s activities to the realization of higher levels of learning and student achievement. FPS needs to put its educational house in order and focus on activities that produce student learning. Why would you provide $186 Million more to an operationally scattered District littering itself with noneducational initiatives that undermine and diffuse staff capacity to deliver effective education of the District’s students?
Stop pretending not to see. Stop pretending not to hear. Speak up and Vote No in November.