Should I Vote For Building a New School?

This coming election, there’s an issue up for vote on whether our city should build a new school. I’m undecided, because I don’t know if it will truly benefit the kids.

There’s really nothing much wrong with the old school, except that it’s ugly–an old, Minimalist, ominous-looking box of a place. (The nearby prison is prettier.) It is in reasonably good repair, though admittedly high in maintenance costs, as are all older buildings of such size.

The student body doesn’t appear to have outgrown the school, either, because I’ve never heard any complaints about overcrowding. They’ve made no mention of any intention to hire more teachers, so I assume class size would remain the same.

All the ads mentioned was a need to “have the tools to prepare our children for the future,” and made vague reference to the “community pride.” Surely, if the need was pressing, some mention would have been made of the reason.

The tax increase doesn’t really bother me. It’s not all that much, and if a new school would benefit children’s education, I’m all for it. Which leads me to my question: does it have any benefits? If the teachers, texts and class size remain the same, is there any benefit to having a new building?


If you were in HS right now, would you be satisfied graduating from that school? I think that is the real question. The graduates are going to be the taxpayers of the future, when you move from a taxpayer to a tax beneficiary. The better educated the generation behind you, the better the benefits to you in retirement.

Back when my midget was in elementary school, we voted to have the schools improved. I even contributed flowers to help with the landscaping. Three years later, due to dwindling enrollment, my kid’s school closed and is now a lovely board office. The middle schools closed and they moved those grades over to the high school. I was super pissed.

My kid was still learning just fine before the school was rebuilt. I guess we just thought the improved schools would help our property values. I guess that would only be if they stayed open.

Where do you live? Around here building new schools is always controversial and it usually passes by the slimmest of margins, if at all. Actually, it usually doesn’t pass. So the powers that be are reluctant to even bring the issue up unless there is an obvious overriding need. Is there somewhere in the US right now where State and local budgets are in such surplus that they can contemplate building a school for such vague reasons as “community pride”?

For example, our town had to replace the middle school a few years ago because the old one WAS too small, in addition to too old. It also was not compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and bringing it into compliance would have cost almost as much as building a new school. Also there wasn’t enough parking, and no area for outside recreation. Even with all those good reasons, it barely passed, although that may say more about the town we live in than anything else.

Even soo I am little surprised if in your area they are going to build a new school just for the heck of it. Maybe the current school is big enough now, but they are predicting more kids in a few years?

We just had this debate in my home town.

Here are the issues the “pro” side argued:

Maintenance costs – not just maintenance, but the entire infrastructure of the old schools (structure, plumbing, heating, electrical) are wearing out. Computer and cable TV networking was patched together and subject to frequent disruption. The buildings had to be made ADA compliant and still lacked any good way to get a disabled person from one floor to the next.

Flexibility – the vision for the new school had a combination of traditional classrooms and adjoining smaller breakout rooms where teachers or assistants could work with a single student or small groups

Administrative offices – in the old buildings the principal and school secretary were shoved into a corner somewhere. The new school would have brought the teachers’ mailboxes, copy machines, school nurse, counselors, etc. into one place.

Expandability – even though they’d be built on the same grounds as the existing buildings, the new schools would be designed to be expanded without the rat’s maze of wings, temporary buildings, etc. the old schools have undergone.

We live in an old community – the newest school is 45 years old. However, many of the voters grew up in the town and went to school in those same buildings. Also, many of the homes in our town are a lot older than 45 years and still serving the owners well. The bond issue was defeated overwhelmingly.

Has your school district announced their enrolment projections? Ours are usually pretty accurate out to about 5 years. If they’re expecting an upsurge in enrollment, building a new school probably makes more sense than trying to expand an old one. If your school needs upgrades in technology or disability access, the costs in ripping everything up and rebuilding the systems may also justify starting from the ground up. Otherwise, you’ll have to go with your gut.