Source: Sherman Publications

My Way
My Way
Waste continues, but it’s for the kids, right?

by CJ Carnacchio

April 06, 2011

It’s nice to know that as the rest of us try to make ends meet in the face of rising gas prices and rising grocery bills, the Oxford school district still has plenty of money to burn.

Just take a gander at the laundry list of wasteful spending its planning to engage in (see Page 1).

The school district’s saving approximately $1.2 million in bond money because the construction bids came back lower than expected for Phase 1 and 2 of the $32.7 million bond project.

Is the school district using this considerable savings to help pay off the bond debt? Heck no!

Our glorious leaders are planning to spend it on a whole bunch of stuff we really don’t need.

For instance, they’re planning to spend $399,372 on tennis courts for Oxford High School. You remember those tennis courts, don’t you?

They were part of the February 2009 bond proposal that district voters failed and were not part of the November 2009 bond proposal that voters approved.

As someone who personally and editorially endorsed the second bond proposal because it was supposed to be about needs, not wants, I definitely feel betrayed.

But hey, who cares what the voters did at the ballot box or if taxpayers save a few dollars in the long run, a world-class school district needs tennis courts.

We can’t let the people’s common sense trump our leaders’ grand vision.

How can our kids be expected to compete with the Chinese in the global marketplace if they can’t play tennis?

Right now, there are millions of Chinese kids mastering the continental grip, so they can effectively hit a slice shot.

Sure, you laugh now, but how will you feel when the Chinese start dominating Wimbledon?

You know what else a world-class district needs?

A $37,900 pressbox for a middle school athletic stadium.

As long as we’re putting in a pressbox, we might as well throw in $107,900 for bleachers at the middle school stadium.

And finally how can Oxford be expected to be ranked among the world’s finest educational institutions if we don’t spend $119,000 to build a new and separate entrance for the high school’s Performing Arts Center?

We have to spend this money because A) we saved it and B) it’s for the kids. We’re certainly not spending it to feed egos, pad resumes or keep up with the Joneses.

I’m sure there are some killjoys out there who will argue that spending all this bond savings on these frivolous additions while simultaneously complaining about proposed education funding cuts from Lansing is the height of hypocrisy and arrogance.

But it should be noted that bond money cannot be legally spent on a school district’s operational expenses.

Granted, all of the money comes from the same source – the taxpayers – and the school district could generate a ton of good will in the community by using this savings to help pay off some bond debt.

But then again, the district’s main goal here is to become “world-class” and that means spending money.

Vision isn’t cheap. If it’s truly a vision, you’ll never have enough money to realize it.

By all means, let’s keep spending tons on these unnecessary big-ticket items instead of using the money to lessen the taxpayers’ debt burden.

After all, if history’s any guide, we’re probably only a few years away from the next big bond proposal because it’s never enough for the schools. There is no light at the end of the school debt tunnel, only a revolving door.

Maybe buying all this stuff will distract people from the fact that only 18.3 percent of our high school seniors are considered college-ready by the ACT scores.

Maybe parents won’t notice that Oxford ranked 28th out of the county’s 65 high schools in college-preparedness.

Maybe they won’t notice that Clarkston had 24.7 percent of their seniors ready for college and ranked 18th in the county. Or that our archrival Lake Orion had 29.1 percent college-ready based on the ACT and ranked 13th.

But hey, the ACT isn’t all that important, right?

Oh, I’m sorry, Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling did you wish to say something, sir?

“The reason I care more about the ACT (is) because it’s a true norm reference test that’s valid and a true predictor of future success . . . What’s really important to us is that ACT because that’s what determines scholarships; that determines what students have access to in terms of what schools they can get into or not,” said Skilling in a July 2009 interview.

I guess we all should cross our fingers and hope Oxford’s students earn lots of tennis scholarships.