Ensuing schools tragedy

To the Editor:

I am writing about the ensuing tragedy—and I think it is a tragedy—wherein our destructive, willful and reality-blind school system is once again headed towards a catastrophic tax nightmare for all Cleveland Heights and University Heights taxpayers. That is, the sudden new plan for knocking down and/or remodeling every single school building, and once again, dabbling in trendy nonsense about open classrooms.

This nonsense—a  repeat of similar educational experiments in the 70s—is going to cost upwards of $200 million. Well, that's if they don't have 100% cost overruns, like every other such project. Does anyone else remember City Hall with a glass pyramid on it? The library bridge to nowhere?

No problem though! Because we just handed them a tax levy win in November, proving we will pay for anything no matter how poor our education results.

When we were asked for a huge levy in November 2011, we were told “the money will last for a minimum of three years.” But here it is only May, and they are asking for not just one, but a series of new levies to raise hundreds of millions of dollars! The last levy raised my taxes by $150 a year; it is likely the new levies (when totaled) will result in at least a 50% increase in taxation. CH-UH is already the second-highest taxed school district in Ohio; I guess we need to go for #1?

I now pay more in property taxes than I do on my mortgage or federal taxes. And what do I get for this money? One of the lowest-ranked districts in the state, where many of the individual schools are still on Academic Watch or Continuous Improvement (and school administrators continue to cry the blues that “it's too hard to teach children anything!” while they pull down enormous salaries).

Suddenly now the solution isn't higher standards, discipline or longer hours (for all that money) but . . . we must have all new buildings. That's it! It can't be the teaching or the administration that is the problem. No, it’s gotta be those older buildings keeping children from learning or behaving.

Never mind that many of the finest school districts in the region, like Mayfield Heights, Rocky River and Westlake, have older buildings and are not tearing down all their school buildings.

Are the numbers of school children in CH-UH declining? You bet they are. But it’s not because of our buildings—it’s because of our taxes and policies, which charge us top dollar for lousy schools and which reward failure. And which cling with a death grip (re: Eric Silverman) to every collapsing old building, spending money on the remnants of our former glory rather than on our children. But never mind—we can just tax the stupid taxpayer to death. They pass every levy without question—they will give us another $200 million to waste on open classrooms (again).

Never mind that open classrooms were the debacle of the 70s, and they are now asking to tear down the schools (Fairfax, Boulevard) that we built back then.

Our school officials appear to have collectively lost their minds. Hopefully taxpayers have not, and will vote "no" on this wasteful and ridiculous multi-million dollar expansion program.

I call on every current member of School Board to resign, given that this pathetic catastrophe is the best thing they can think of doing to waste our tax dollars.

Laurel Freeder

Laurel Freeder
Cleveland Heights

Read More on Letters To The Editor
Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 6:33 PM, 06.08.2012