Monday, September 9, 2013

Why I’m voting for Gregg Geerdes

I’m voting for Gregg Geerdes for the simple reason that so much of what he says makes sense to me. He says, for example, that the board should have based its long-term facilities plan on the money it actually has access to, rather than an additional hundred million dollars that it can get only through bond approvals. He says that the district should not have asked the voters to approve the Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) before developing its long-term plan (he’s right; I was wrong), and that having done so, it should not have approved a plan that included school closures that were never discussed during the RPS campaign. He says that the district should prioritize its funding needs in light of its limited money, and that tearing down a school while enrollment is expanding, only to rebuild that capacity at great cost elsewhere, is a luxury we can’t afford. He says that the district should start building the new high school and one east-side elementary school (near Windsor Ridge) right away, and that the opening of the new high school may make it unnecessary to build a 300-student addition to City High. He says that Hoover should remain open, and that as a result there is no immediate need to build a second new elementary on the east side. He supports the diversity goals and believes (and I agree) that the redistricting that will accompany the opening of a new elementary school will enable the district to make substantial progress toward those goals without doing anything outrageous with school boundaries. He believes that closing Hoover and opening a new 500-student elementary school on the southeast side would naturally create pressure to close Hills Elementary. He is the only candidate to emphasize that the board can’t just do whatever it wants, regardless of whether there’s public support for it, if it ever hopes to get the 60% approval needed for new bonds. He says that the district needs to regain the public’s trust, and that to do so, it needs to be more honest and fair with people.

These are sensible positions, and they are also disarmingly candid. Not everyone likes being told that they might not get the new construction that they wanted in the long-term plan. None of the other candidates have identified any items in the plan (other than the Hoover closure) that they would de-prioritize or eliminate. But prioritizing does make sense and will be necessary, and it’s only fair to tell the voters how you would do it. The long-term plan that Geerdes describes makes much more sense than the plan that the board approved, and his candor about it is a good sign for his ability to reestablish people’s trust in the board. I wish all the candidates spoke as clearly and as sensibly about the district’s future.

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