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Rochelle Durgin, Published April 20 2013

Letter: School board pushes business plan, not a plan for education

In response to Keith Berg’s letter, “Be careful about ‘neighborhood’ ” (April 13): Instead of commenting on the poor condition of some of Fargo’s older schools, maybe you should consider how they got to this point. If you want to base this on “facts and reasoning” consider this: When the Fargo School Board asked the consultants (ICS) what other school districts budget annually on deferred maintenance, they said, “Districts similar in size of FPS spend $4 million-$7 million per year in deferred maintenance in their annual operating budgets. FPS spends $1.3 million” (Fargo Board of Education Retreat Summary meeting minutes dated Jan. 12).

I’m sure this news was an eye- opener for the district that is now considering budgeting

$4 million annually for maintenance, but sadly the situation has already snowballed to where we’re at now.

It’s sad that schools have been pitted against each other. I sympathize with Kennedy Elementary and their urgent situation. Their needs are real and no less valid than the needs of the older schools on the chopping block. Unfortunately, the long-range facilities planning process is a business plan – not an education plan – and the schools that don’t fit the plan will be reminded of this.

The public needs to know that the newly revised Guiding Standards, which are “guiding” this whole process, were supposed to be revised with public input. But that step was skipped and certain school board members made those decisions for us. In fact, it says in July 12 meeting minutes, “Review Guiding Principles – hold public meetings to determine if the current principles are still what the public desires.” YES, that’s what the public desired. But, did we get the chance?

The thing that sickens me is how this mess has been dumped into the laps of the Community Task Force – a task force now charged with going through hundreds of pages of documents and spreadsheets and expected to analyze the information to come up with solutions in four short meetings. Then the Fargo School Board can wash their hands free of the mess and say the Community Task Force came up with the recommendations.

Durgin lives in Fargo.