Letter: $44 Million Monstrosity

Letter: $44 Million Monstrosity

To the Editor:

City Council members — especially returnees Euille, Pepper and Smedberg — should wake up! A taxpayers’ revolt is underway. Tax and spend is Council’s motto yet there is no better measure of waste than the new Jefferson-Houston School. The big three, despite strong neighborhood objections, are among those who voted to construct the $44 million “monstrosity.”

Just recently the city’s news service reminded us that an administrative SUP was approved so that displaced Head Start students could be spared Council’s mandated alternative. Rather than temporarily move Head Start to the Charles Houston Center as per a 2012 Council directive, Head Start now expects to occupy new school classrooms rent free.

Want to bet the ACPS, staff signed SUP is illegal? That Council, despite having depleted the city’s surplus, will again forgive ACPS’ screw-ups? The new school is for children, is it not?

It seems Head Start lost its permanent Cameron and West Streets home as part of Jefferson-Houston’s new design. School Board members now scramble to justify what City Council repeatedly ignores. The new Jefferson-Houston School is an oversized, poorly planned project for which no reasonable rules apply. Can the situation get any worse?

Yes! ACPS does not care about dollars and sense, only bogus enrollment figures. ACPS staff should be reprimanded, planning and budget types bounced, and School Board members thrown out of office.

Forty-four million dollars divided by 305 JHU students equals a 2014 per student building cost of $144,262. For this, the new gymnasium could have been eliminated, the middle school-ers properly relocated to George Washington Middle School (space remains available), and the long standing Head Start building saved. We do not have to wait 20 years for then-seated Councilman Speck’s idiot rule to apply: When making land use decisions there is always pressure to do the expedient or popular thing. The real test is to ask will someone 20 years from now drive by the project and say, "What idiot approved that?"

Nolan Alexander