Thursday, October 30, 2008

Burtsfield School Demolition

Were you surprised to find out that the City of West Lafayette was paying to demolish Burtsfield School? I was. Apparently, I voted the money for it. Take a look to the right at Ordinance 25-08. (The Clerk-Treasurer reports that’s when Council made the money available for the project.) See anything about the demolition in it? No. Nor will you find a word about the possibility of the Burtsfield demolition being paid for by the city in the minutes of the September City Council meeting. Nobody said a word about what the money might be used for beyond curbs and sidewalks.

Was the Burtsfield demolition on the agenda for the 1 October Board of Works meeting? No. It’s there though; IIc. You’ll find a brief mention in the minutes. Do you think somebody might have mentioned that we were about to tear down a building we didn’t own? Is it reasonable to assume that this had never been discussed within the city administration before, and that the manner of funding had not been deliberated over by someone?

AND is Brad Marley a member of the unelected Board of Works that voted the money for the demolition? Yes. Is Brad Marley an appointed member of the School Board? Yes. Is that legal? Yes. Is that appropriate? You decide.

We got hosed.

From “hosed”
#7. Slang.
a. to cheat, trick, or take advantage of.

I love the WL schools. It doesn’t take much effort to make the case that a strong school corporation is very good for District #2, since two of the three city schools are in or adjacent to District # 2, and our residents can walk to school.

But this administration, reminiscing about the School Corporation of 30 years ago, believes the school corporation and the city have identical interests. Perhaps. Yet with every house built north of Kalberer Rd., and with every statement to the press about how inconvenient and costly code enforcement is south of Kalberer Rd., the interests of the two entities diverge. The school corporation is simply not entitled to this benefit without public discussion.

The school corporation is irrelevant to all the people living in District #1, half of the people living in District #2, and some of the people living in District #3. These people might have markedly different ways in mind to spend that demolition money. I bet the laid off city workers would have a suggestion. As might all the city workers as they contemplate the cost of their new health coverage. We will never have that conversation.

Good schools have an intrinsic worth, certainly. Is the school corporation a development tool for the city? Yes. If the city’s largess continues and if the state does not change district transfer regulations, the West Lafayette Community School Corporation will probably survive as a
“semi-private” school, a kind of public charter.

Unfortunately, the City of West Lafayette cannot cherry pick its residents in that same way.

This city government should work for all its citizens.

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