It's about Money, Manipulation and Wabeek

Funding is "per pupil," but spending is "per adult." What happened to "21st. Century Education?

I attended two of the BHSD's town hall presentations about the new/used "hybrid" high school schematically designed by consultant Fielding Nair International and noticed that this term was never mentioned:

"21st Century Education."

Wasn't that, along with operational savings of about $2.5 million (mostly by reductions in sports programs and staff) supposed to be the point?

It seems to me that the reason the board spent $863,114 to hire the virtual consultant, known as "FNI," was this firm's promise to create an environment that was hospitable to "21st Century education."

Apparently, enough voters registered a serious concern about whatever "21st c. education" might be, and that they would prefer to stick with traditional classrooms, small class sizes, and teachers who are capable of teaching on their own, rather than in groups.

So, if the plan developed by FNI was supposed to be about 21st Century education, and now it's not, why proceed?

Here's the point: Will the "hybrid" school improve academic achievement in the BHSD? What are the specific advantages offered by this plan in terms of improvement of student learning?

Yes, it has a BIG auditorium, and a BIG new pool, and those are very nice. But this is supposed to be a SCHOOL, not a "sports and entertainment complex."

As to any operational savings, reductions in cost can be achieved right now by consolidating sports teams as necessary and reducing administrative staff.

Many administrators have time to attend the Town Hall meetings, strictly as "observers," often held during their work day. If they don't have anything better to do, then do we really need them?

Funding is per pupil, but spending is "per adult." Spend less on adults and you have more for the students.



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Judy Weiner February 17, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Jenny, Can't you find something "better to do" than recycle old and tired arguments against a new Bloomfield Hills high school that so many in our community are in favor of? The Detroit Public Schools welcome volunteers at all of their schools. I would be happy to show you the way. I believe your energy is worth harnessing and can be used elsewhere for positive. I believe district voters are going to bring in a strong YES for the school bond proposal on May 8.
Laina S. February 17, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I totally agree, Judy. Although this proposal is brought by a brand new superintendant, with a brand new proposal, new numbers, new "wording", etc. she seems to bring up the same, old arguments. It tires me to see her fighting against some supposed conspiracy theory against the community. I dont' just TRUST everyone, but I choose to look at both sides and make an educated decision before crying "manipulation." I think even if they brought a proposal that GAVE her money, she would find something wrong with it. You know what I find wrong???? The fact that my middle school child is in limbo AGAIN because "enough voters" will vote no on ANY proposal, rather than seeing the value in updated educational facilities and, yes, sports facilities. While we continue to bicker over every detail of the wording, other surrounding school districts are catching up with us in education AND they have nicer facilitles that are able to house more advanced educational tools our current buildings can't. So, if you were a new resident in the area looking at schools, which would you choose?! For some, who argue that new taxes will deter new residents from moving in, I think their concern should be the uncertainty of our schools as a bigger deterrent. Let's move on with this plan - our kids deserve better.
Laina S. February 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Amy Cardin February 17, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Jenny, had you stayed for the board meeting last night and heard and seen Superintendent Glass' impassioned presentation, I find it hard to believe that you could still be against this amazing proposal. After thousands of hours listening to the community, students and staff and nearly 14 months of planning and number crunching, the proposal hits every nail on the head. It is a value conscious, forward thinking plan that will serve our students and community for decades to come. I encourage every community member to become educated on the plan and join me in voting YES in the May election. In addition to Mr. Glass' presentation, I was struck by something else at last night's meeting. GRATITUDE. Three high school leadership students, sporting t-shirts announcing the new mascot and colors for our Bloomfield Hills High School spoke to the board and thanked them for allowing the students to be part of this process. They are poised to begin the next chapter...GO BLACK HAWKS! The other show of gratitude I saw was three oversized "flowers" on the dais. The petals were created out of the handprints of the BHSD preschoolers. Hundreds of them with the sentiment in the middle "thank you." Folks, these are the students who will be affected by the legacy we leave this May. It is my great hope that it will continue to be a legacy of excellence in education, community engagement and support. Visit the district website at www.bloomfield.org and please vote YES on May 8.
-Elizabeth- February 17, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Well said Amy. The thank you hand print flowers from the Bloom'in Tots are beautiful and the high school students representing the first graduating class from Bloomfield Hills High School in 45 years made me proud to be a parent of two soon to be Bloomfield Hills Black Hawks. Go Black Hawks!
Beth Sinclair February 17, 2012 at 08:49 PM
We can't simply just merge sports teams to save money without actually blending and combining our school populations. Our current athletic teams compete in either Division 2 or 3 conferences, and once we "combine" them we will be a Division 1 size school. The MHSAA isn't going to just let us combine our teams so we can save money! Then every other school in the state will want to do the same thing therefore the cost savings can't actually be realized until the student populations are actually combined. As for the "sports and entertainment" issue, our schools do an OUTSTANDING job offering FABULOUS educational opportunities to our children as well as WONDERFUL "sports and entertainment" opportunities which means they are creating well rounded individuals!! BHSD must still be doing something right! Combined AHS & LHS: -Have over a 97.5% graduation rate 98% attend 4 or 2 yr. college Avg. GPA is over 3.3 Each graduating class logs avgs. 38,000 hrs. community service Combined ACT score is over a 24.4 Over 26 AP/IB courses offered Over $10,000,000 in scholarships offered to students We need to pass a bond issue this time and stop all of this ridiculous talk!!! VOTE YES ON MAY 8th!!
Cara McAlister February 17, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Ms. Greenwell, you are very insightful in your thinking. Bloomfield Hills owes you much gratitude for bringing the school board's lack of fiscal responsibility, and obsession with building to the taxpayer's attention. While Bloomfield 20/20 encourages citizens to Vote No on May 8, we have to remember, it is the majority of taxpayers in Bloomfield who defeated the last two requests for an amount of money that is just extravagant to spend on only one high school. All of our K-12 buildings are about the same age. What funds are on hand to maintain and renovate them? Will the district ask for more taxes in the next year or so to renovate elementary and middle schools? The BHSD has documents that any of you can get, with a FOIA request, that shows that our district is in danger of deficits increasing with each year. Spending $58 million at 4% over 30 years, amounts to an additional spending of $4.8 million per year (to save $2.5 million per year?) The numbers just don't add up. The Doyle Center does not need a $500,000 renovation for the administration's use. That is approved. And, the Maintenance and Building Dept does not need a huge, new building at the Bowers School "Farm" (new industrial complex).
Nancy D February 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM
I agree with the above comments indicating that we should support the direction being taken by the school board to enthusiastically combine the high schools in a much improved facility. Jenny, if you ever had a valid point to make, it was lost long ago in your petty, divisive rantings. Do you see improved academic achievement as the only goal for our high school students? What about providing first class opportunities for our students to excel in technololgy, sports and fine arts? Our district has a fine educational product to offer but the package is old and outdated. My children graduated years ago from both Andover and Lahser, yet I still believe that an investment in our schools is necessary to maintain the outstanding reputation that attracts young families to our community. Nancy D
Linda P February 18, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Actually, thousands of BHSD residents agree with Jenny which is why past bonds have been defeated and many residents don't support the plan proposed. I like Jenny's energy to keep the community engaged hearing alternate views instead of the narrow corral in which the board seeks to define debate.
Linda P February 18, 2012 at 01:31 AM
The "uncertainty? Laina, has been created by the board who won't accept what the voting booth results are.
Marvin February 18, 2012 at 02:16 AM
To the No People: The school board DID hear and they DID accept what the voters said in November 2010, but they also heard what the COMMUNITY had to say afterwards. They listened to the why: it's too much money without a fully developed plan. For 2 years, Rob Glass, the school board, administrators, teachers, parents and other community members have worked to put together a High School package that addresses those concerns. You just have to look at what the new high school will be and say to yourself, "We've waited for a long time for something like this, we're Bloomfield Hills and we deserve something nice, mostly new, for our children. And yes, a nice pool and a nice auditurium. We can afford it and they deserve it." Now is the time. Please support this proposal, support the Black Hawks and vote yes, and let's move forward. As a community. Look around you.
Linda P February 18, 2012 at 02:55 AM
They accepted but.....but....but.....we deserve something new? What is your strange fascination with new.....new doesn't mean better or more effective it just means new. This isn't an emitional argument it's academic performance and finances. Remove the sap.
-Elizabeth- February 18, 2012 at 04:12 AM
But, but, but.....I have heard that word from a number of people in the past few weeks, BUT it may not be what you are thinking. The 'but' this time is, I went to a town hall thinking I would vote no, but now that I understand the plan, but now that I understand what will happen should the voters turn down the plan, but now that I understand the operational savings the district would receive with all the students on one campus, but now that I see the cost to me as a taxpayer isn't as great as I thought it would be and that my property taxes will actually go down in a couple of years, I am supporting the plan. I have also heard some people saying no, but it seems to be coming from the same people I have seen saying no for years. The district has said this is it. They have provided this community a different plan from the past "NEW" plans, BUT more importantly, they have provided a reasonable plan and a compromise plan based upon community input. This is a plan the community should support.
Marvin February 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM
It's not a "strange fascination" with new... that's a silly statement. And I don't think the "new doesn't mean better or more effective it just means new" line works for me. Many would argue that new really DOES mean better and usually more effective too. We are at the point where one high school IS happening. Construction, plan A or plan B, WILL occur. We know what both of those plans entail. Plan A looks right to me and I'm voting yes. And I think those who have been around for at least the last two years, much less the past nine or more, can attest that this IS an emotional argument, very much so. And yes, it is about finances, but I don't think it's about performance as much. Our kids perform great in a multitude of ways: scholastically, athletically, artistically. But then we're not voting on performance. What this IS about, is a new high school building. Let's help our students perform at their very best with a much improved facility, which will also allow them to keep the curriculum, options and opportunities that our schools are known for. GO BLACK HAWKS!
Emily Eichenhorn February 18, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Elizabeth, your point underscores something that's been puzzling me about people who are still making the same "no" arguments as have been made for years now: don't they recognize that they've actually won and gotten exactly what they asked for? It seems like they've gotten so used to saying no that they've lost sight of the forest for the trees. Past proposals were either abandoned or voted down in the face of strong arguments that noted that the District leadership hadn't put enough thought and planning into the process, and that they were just asking for lots of money and essentially saying, "trust us, we'll spend it well once we have it." 20/20 and others effectively criticized the leadership, insisting that they do a better job at planning and communicating and exercising much greater fiscal responsibility. And, lo and behold, the leadership respected what 20/20 said! Doing exactly as 20/20 requested, they brought in new blood, involved the community at the grass roots level, did a lot of conscientious planning, and scaled back to a plan that hits only what's necessary. Come on, 20/20: you got exactly what you wanted. You won! Accept your victory graciously, vote for the plan that you prompted, and let this fight end.
Laina S. February 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Great point Emily, and well said. Sounds like they will always find a reason to vote NO.
Neal Charness February 18, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Until we understand that many of the people behind the "no" argument don't wish to discuss the merits we'll try to engage them. It's fairly pointless. The arguments are all diversionary and designed to make it look like it's about the people and not the schools. They're trying to get people to throw their hands up like it's a nasty political campaign. If you look at the title of the blogger's post it mentions Wabeek but never mentions Wabeek in the body of the blog. It's intended to be incendiary. It's not surprising but it's really best to focus on the schools and tell the story to the community. The others aren't capable of being convinced so I would let it go.
Cara McAlister February 21, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Jenny Greenwell is correct. In November, 2010, voters were offered a new high school WITH a fancy new administration building and a sky bridge. Taxpayers were never offered just the school. If the Board cares about education, they would stick to the school and education and quit putting in major renovations for themselves. The Board has approved a $1.1 million and climbing, renovation to The Doyle Center which was defeated by vote in Nov.2010, but, that they are doing anyway. Like spoiled children. Remember, Bloomfield 20/20 may be vocal, but the majority of taxpayers are the ones who voted NO. they should vote No again in May, 2012, because elections should be held in November. There is a bill in Congress now in Michigan and several other states to outlaw May school ballots of any kind. So, a lot of people feel May is sneaky.
Laina S. February 23, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Cara, I don't find a May election sneaky if it is well publicized, thoroughly explained and will prevent prolonging this project into another school year. This election meets all of those criteria. The majority of taxpayers DID vote no...on the OLD proposals. This is NEW. This has been developed after listening to all of the input from said "no" voters. There is nothing sneaky about it.
Linda P February 23, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Laina you don't understand why people ...many of them feel the May elections sneaky. Sneaky because May elections historically are low turnout and easily manipulated by constituents of said elections...that is a political reality. Sneaky because the proponents keep insisting its not sneaky. Why don't you over come the doubters and remove the obstacles to the accusations of unfairness by using a November presidential ballot? Because it makes too much sense.....because you want your desired outcome no matter how tainted it is getting there. The school listened to the NO voters...laughable.....the town halls were just as manipulated as this election is trying to be. creating around round of anger and rejection is no way to move forward. VOTE NO. NO will prevail.
Neal Charness February 23, 2012 at 11:51 PM
The date of the election and allegations about it are diversionary tactics. It's about our schools. The people posting complaints about the election date want to talk about that, not our schools. Read posts, click on the posters' names, and determine their credibility and values for yourself.
Trefer Vontalia March 09, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Do you have a heart? Or kids? If you had either then you would know that the Bloomfield Hills Schools need to combine. The cost is merely 24.17 per month which, in all honesty is extremely cheap.


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