Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Comments on comments in the Wave on Bond

Well, typical of the last issue before an election, the Wasatch Wave reports being overrun with letters and was unable to print them all. However, following from their editorial position of support seemed to somewhat bias their letter selection, with three expressing concern over the bond and eight supportive of the Bond.

Further if one calculates the column inches devoted to the two "sides," the bias becomes more pronounced 85 column inches to 31. To go even further, 85 inches of type was given to the School District for "news" and commentary in support of the 12 inch editorial suggesting a "yes" vote (with a reservation about the size.)

A few comments about some of the epistles printed, if I may; which I can, because it's my blog.
Self proclaimed "country boy" Phil Sweat, launches a vehement diatribe against one particular candidate (which seems to violate the Wave's length standard and its policy against candidate support - but apparently allows candidate bashing, if unnamed) and then slips in a few lines opposing the bond because of costs and the size of the school.

Paul Sweat, not surprisingly as the school principal, supports his own design.

Marie Adams is right on, discussing wants and needs.

Greg Tayler (an unsigned Doctor) declares pride in the new proposal.

Lynn Adams (a declared Doctor, as in new PhD) tries a creative computation to show taxes aren't really going up if we add up enough of them, but then falls for the "sacrifice" propaganda.

I'm sure you can (will) read the rest for yourself. I won't bother either with the School District and chief propagandist John Moss' comments, except to say it's mildly amazing the amount of room that has been given to these "press releases" not only in this issues but also on the front page for the last few weeks of sales pitches. The question needs to be asked - how much School District time and money has been paid while some employees were working for a yes vote?

A minor comment on the full page ad by Citizens for Better Schools. Wow, might the money have been better spent on a donation to the Wasatch Foundation. Then another half page of supporters names - if their ad is true (2,500 supporters), I guess they are well on the way to the $60 million educational edifice.

Tuesday's vote will be interesting.





1 comment:

Jeff Thatcher said...

In my opinion, the wave is even more biased than you think. I submitted a letter that ran in the October 25th issue of the wave. I submitted it in printed form. The wave editorial staff absolutely butchered the content, formatting, and punctuation of my letter.

They did the same with the letter from Marie Adams printed on the 1st of November. They "inserted" spelling and punctuation errors that were not part of her original.

Try and find any errors in the letters of those that come out in support of the bond election. I've attached my original submission to the wave in case anyone would like to read it in its original form.

Jeff Thatcher

October 15, 2006

Wasatch Wave
Attn: Editor
Subject: Proposed New High School
From: Jeff Thatcher

Dear Editor,

The purpose of this letter is to provide my opinion along with supporting facts regarding the proposed new Wasatch High School building.

While I am in full agreement with the school board regarding the need for a new high school, I am unable to support the construction of the new high school as presently proposed for the following reasons:

1. The proposed school is too large.
2. The proposed school is too expensive.

1. The proposed school is too large:

Wasatch High School currently has under 1,000 students placing the school solidly in the 3A State classification (800 to 1,200 students). The Wasatch County School Board has indicated that they plan to build a high school that will accommodate a 4A school for future growth. The proposed high school is 308,000 square feet. I believe that this is too large for the following reasons:

• The proposed school is 19% larger than average 5A schools: The Jordan School District has eight 5A high schools including Jordan, Bingham, Alta, & Hillcrest. These schools all have enrollment of approximately 2,000 students (twice as many as Wasatch High). The proposed Wasatch High School is almost 50,000 square feet (19%) larger than the average size of the 5A schools listed in Jordan School District.

• The proposed school is 42% larger than the State’s recommendation for the State’s largest 4A schools: The Utah State Office of Education publishes a document entitled “Per Student Space Criteria.” This document states that the recommended size for a high school with 1500 students is 217,500 square feet. 1500 students is the “upper limit” of the 4A classification. Why then are we considering constructing a building that is nearly 100,000 square feet larger than the state recommended size of a 4A school? (See internet link below)

2. The proposed school is too expensive.

The proposed construction cost of the new school is $150 per square foot. When the cost of the land is added in, along with bond origination fees, the cost per square foot becomes an unprecedented $165 per square foot. I feel that this price is too expensive for the following reasons:

• The proposed construction cost is 50% higher than the Park City high school construction cost (currently under construction). According to the Utah State Office of Education, no high school construction project since 2002 has cost more than $100 per square feet compared to the proposed $150/sqft proposed for Wasatch High. (see link below).

Park City High School is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion in August of 2007. The project is 197,000 square feet. The cost is $17.5 million or $89/sqft. The proposed Wasatch High construction cost is 69% higher, per square foot, than the new Park City High School. Even with construction cost inflation, why is the proposed Wasatch high school 69% higher than PC?

• High schools are less expensive to construct than elementary schools: Old Mill elementary school (in Heber) was recently constructed at a cost of $104/sqft. The Utah State Office of Education states that elementary schools typically cost $10/sqft more than high schools. Old Mill at $104/sqft begs the question, why are we spending $150/sqft on the proposed high school?


Summary:

Most of us can agree that we need a new high school. I hope that we can also agree that any proposed high school should be well thought out. Let’s not spend money just because we can get our hands on it.

Proponents of the proposed high school state that the building should be a status symbol of our community. I think that we should let our conscious stewardship of public funds and the quality of our children’s education be our status symbol, not an oversized, over-priced building.



Utah State Office of Education recommended high school sizes - http://www.schools.utah.gov/finance/facilities/references/files/SpaceCriteria.pdf

Utah State Office of Education Construction Report - http://www.usoe.k12.ut.us/FINANCE/facilities/records/files/1BUILD.pdf#search=%22construction%20of%20Mountain%20Crest%20High%20School%22