To the editor:
Another week. Another article about the Choice School of Inno-vation, or CSOI. The Mehlville School District’s latest “vision” for our kids and our tax dollars.
Call Staff Reporter Gloria Lloyd, apparently the school district’s newest member of the public relations team, wrote the fluff piece two weeks ago that is noticeably devoid of the answers to questions which we, the taxpayers and owners of the district deserve to have answered. Last week’s entry quotes Dan Fowler as chastising the school board for not energetically embracing the idea of the CSOI.
Though Mr. Fowler apparently considers himself the “hero” of Prop R passage, let’s not forget he was one of the school board members years ago who led the school district toward the financial cliff that they’ve ostensibly managed to recover from.
So, since the Call will not ask, I’ll ask Superintendent Chris Gaines and his “cabinet” of overpaid administrators if they can provide some answers:
First, what is it really going to cost? Factually, no estimates. The taxpayers deserve a legitimate answer before you get our support.
And by the way, kudos to the district’s Finance Committee, comprised of concerned professionals volunteering their expertise without payment, who recently advised the school board and Dr. Gaines that the CSOI was a bad deal for the district’s budget.
You’d think Gaines would be willing to listen to the professionals.
Next, where’s the money going to come from? You said no Prop R money would be used. Really? Are you going to take it out of the operating budget? And then in a year or two tell us you just can’t get by without another tax increase?
Where has the CSOI been a success? And where has it failed to improve test scores? If you can’t answer, we shouldn’t support it. How will it affect the current physical infrastructure? Current maintenance issues must be addressed. Your experiment in education is not more important than that.
If or when the CSOI outgrows St. John school, where will it go and what will it cost? If you don’t know, you should not move forward. Will you need to hire more teachers? How many? How will that affect budgets 3, 5, and 10 years from now?
And if you really do care about community input as much as you claim, why not put the CSOI to a vote. Let the taxpayers and parents decide if it’s such a great idea.
Here’s the bottom line, Dr. Gaines: Just because some administrator with a doctorate in education thinks it’s a good idea is not reason enough to proceed with your plan. Parents and taxpayers deserve factual answers to these and many other questions.
Editor’s note: Rich Franz served on the Mehlville Board of Education from 2011 to 2014.