Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Greenwell Responds to School Board - "Schools of Choice, Part 1"

The following is another excerpt from an editorial in the Birmingham Eccentric, April 1, 2007, from School Board President, Steve Weiss, in response to Don Greenwell, Jr. Editorial published March 25, 2007. Below each excerpt is Mr. Greenwell, Jr’s position.

I will address the last point first. Mr. Greenwell, with absolutely no foundation, claims, "Under this proposal, we will need to double or triple our out-of-district students, which we subsidize, in order to fill up our 'empty airline seats.'"
This is utterly false, and seems aimed at pandering to a supposed threat posed by "out-of district" students. First, these schools are designed for our current enrollment size, 900-1,000 students. We would be imprudent, however, in not allowing for accommodate a minor amount of potential growth, but Mr. Greenwell's numbers have never been considered, and are without any basis in reality.

Mr. Greenwell, Jr. Responds:

The Facts:

The architect last fall stated the proposed buildings would accommodate 15% growth. Recently, our Superintendent observed that the design does not anticipate enrollment growth, but rather, is modeled for 85% occupancy. As a final comment the Superintendent added that if there was growth, it could be absorbed without additional capital expenses.

First we have to come to grips with the fact that these proposed buildings can accommodate more students for education than we anticipate enrolling. It is impossible to understand the double-speak from the district. Is it 115% or 85%? Is it a "minor amount of growth" or "our current enrollment" as noted above? Even within the numbers cited by Mr. Weiss, 900-1,000 per school, there is a 10% variance! Suffice to say, the district's own experts say it will be a challenge to maintain our current enrollment, and the most likely scenario would be a 10 year decline.

Second, the district is evasive on the number of out-of-district high school students. Based on the numbers available, our out-of-district enrollment is in the range of 4% or 5%. Further, the district is on record of their desire to "fill the empty airline seats". Carrying 15% excess capacity in the proposed facilities, the district would need to double or triple the out-of-district students.

That is the reality.