Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Covering Cost Over Runs in Schenley's Refirb

Some nameless and faceless poster asked about the cost over-runs that would come with the remake of Schenley High School. What is $64-million last week and $42-million this week could be, golly, $70-million in a few years and with dozens of change orders later.

How true. That is something to think about -- long and hard.

The folks who send their children to Schenley or to any of the Pittsburgh Public Schools are the ones who pay for them too. We are taxpayers. We are not interested in breaking the bank to pay for public education. By all means, we know better than any that the taxes in the city are too high.

Furthermore another big message that was delivered to many cheering peers came from a parent who said that we worry greatly about the other schools in the district. What about Oliver? What about Peabody? What about Carrick? We don't want the school district to focus all its attention and energy on new programs for the I.B. program and continue to neglect the rest of the district. Building a 'flagship program' isn't what we want if and as it comes at the expense of the other kids -- our neighbors -- and our other children.

But, the cost-over-runs are something to watch and contemplate. But, cost-over-runs are not nearly as bad as what we've already got in the district in various situations.

What is way worse than cost over-runs is making an investment in a building, paying for the cost-over runs, and then not utilize it to a fraction of its capacity.

Westinghouse High School is a beautiful building. Major investments were pumped into Westinghouse recently. Modern lab spaces, wonderful classrooms and an excellent building for learning has been built. It costs tens of millions of dollars to fix up Westinghouse. Who knows the real price tag?

And, who knows what the budgeted amount was contrasted with the actual amounts?

But today, Westinghouse High School, a 'drop out factory', is way under capacity.

Some in high places have been saying that the administration and district power brokers have starved Westinghouse of the necessary programs, teachers, and overall "software" that is deployed at Westinghouse High School. The hardware of Westinghouse is great. The software is in need of an overhaul.

So, what is going to happen there?

Why would they want to re-do Frick Middle School and turn that into a "Science and Technology School with students from grades 6 to 12" -- breaking a middle school that is working -- and still NOT fully deploying the prior investments that were poured into Westinghouse.

Make WESTINGHOUSE the home for the new Science and Technology 6-12 school! Make Westinghouse a city-wide magnet school.

Cost over-runs are but pimples when they seemingly squander the past upgrades and investments.

Even at Schenley High School -- they upgraded all the windows to the entire building just five years ago. The taxpayers made a major investment into Schenley recently. Now they want to close it.


No comments: