The last board vote on Mountain View Whisman middle school plans was 3 Yea, 2 Nay. Here is the short story on why I will again vote against the plans, which have reserved $6.5 million for each school’s new performing arts auditorium.
The teaching staff at Graham supported a balance between new performing arts space and new technology support. So do I. The percentages in the Crittenden staff reports were not quite as clear, but they also support increased performing arts space and technology. So do I.
The problem I think started occurring when the Board, given the first vote on these projects ($50 million), was never given the options of what kinds of performing arts space – and at what fraction of the entire middle school budget.
Performing arts hardware now account for one third of the entire middle school facilities plans! 1/3. That is a pretty big song and dance, even for one who publicly supported the arts during the 2012 campaign. 1/4. That is the fraction of money that is reserved for the ‘big ticket’ auditoriums. These are extremely close in size and complexity to the two high school auditoriums, which we now rent when needed.
The size and complexity of these high-school sized auditoriums means they will take two dedicated “theatre managers,” just like the high schools. $200 thousand a year in expenses. They will also take significant energy to heat and cool. They will need significant parking when used during the times the sports centers are also used.
We have had to give up a remodel for a replacement MultiUse at Graham and a new student PE locker room at Crittenden. There is no money for solar systems, or green energy use certification, or (my favorite) Fire Sprinkler Systems for classroom buildings.
The parent most involved helping Graham’s staff with the staging of musical plays over the last decade, and the one parent called to work with the architects – at a recent public Board meeting – questioned support for these large, costly structures.
What we overspend on song and dance, we will not have to invest in general technology, science, and math. I remind all taxpayers, and my fellow Board members, it is a zero sum game. You cannot dance around the math!
SN is a new MVWSD Trustee