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Guest Opinion

Demand answers, transparency on NH-S Lower Elementary School


I would like to clarify what I meant by “focus on needs” as stated in last week’s article, “Committee weighs fate of New-Hope Solebury’s Lower Elementary School.”

We must distinguish between “needs” and “wants.” I need a car, but I want a Rolls Royce. Now I don’t mean to be facetious, but from what I saw at the May 21 New Hope-Solebury School Board’s Facilities Committee meeting, there are people who believe that the district is entitled to a whole fleet of Rolls Royces.

There was a motion to start an analysis of what is needed for the Upper Elementary School (UES) and the Lower Elementary School (LES) mentioned at the meeting. The motion carried a price tag of $150,000 to hire architects to explore options for the LES and the UES.

Like babes in the woods — very innocent and very naive — the committee agreed unanimously to fund the expenditure.

Fortunately, the next day the school board voted unanimously to keep the motion off the agenda until a later date.

To vote for $150,000 — or, frankly, any amount — before the district provides all relevant documents to all interested parties, especially the taxpayers, would be totally irresponsible.

Documents must include the square footage of every classroom in the LES and the UES, every nook and cranny, along with their stated function and Pa. State Codes when requested.

Complete transparency must be demanded and granted.

Now there was no rebuttal to any part of my statement as I dove into the significant details. And since the devil lives in the details, I have to go in there and flush him out.

Can the district justify the proposed construction of a 6,000-square-foot multi-million dollar gym for 5, 6, and 7-year-old children when a professional basketball court is 94’ by 50’ which is 4,700 square feet?

Does the district need a gym whose size would be suitable for training junior Olympians?

With the Pa. State Code calling for 65 square feet for each student in a gym, will an average class size of 20 students each having 300 square feet be considered excessive? These are questions for the physical education teacher who has taught here for 20+ years, who is in touch with the needs of his students unlike a facilities administrator and outside architects.

How about a proposed 25,000-square-foot addition to the UES for grades 3, 4, 5? With a standard sized classroom having 700 square feet, which I taught in for 40 years in New York City, the 16 present LES classes, if moved to the UES, would occupy just 11,000 square feet. What are the plans for the other 14,000 square feet which are the equivalent of 20 classrooms.

State of the art lounges? Over-the-top-sized offices? Very roomy store rooms? Many questions. Few, if any, answers.

Hopefully, complete transparency will prevail with the public giving input by attending future meetings.

Melvin Band lives in Solebury.

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