Board and Administration Teach Community Valuable Life Lesson

Board and Administration Teach Community Valuable Life Lesson

We are never too old to learn and the ICCSD has taught us some very valuable ($260+ million) lessons.

  1. First get funding. Be as vague as you can. Let everyone know that they will get everything they want: Third high school (really 4th as Tate does exist); A/C for all, temporaries replaced by additions but don’t tell the public about subtractions (Hoover, Lincoln, Hills, Mann, etc) or multiplication, as in all the future sales tax revenue will have an interest charge or surcharge of 3%? – who knows what the percentage rate will be in 2029.
  2. Get support: Since everyone is getting what they want, your votes should be 100%, right? But there are always some people who will ask questions. Some even ask for dollar amounts. These people can easily be brushed off by being told: “don’t you want nice things for our students?” thus making them appear out of touch.
  3. Hire consultants ($180,000): Plant the seed that all of our schools are educationally inadequate (even though our schools are rated #1 and #4 in the State of Iowa and high nationally) Show them pictures of an amazing new school that will Ooh and Aah the crowd when their PowerPoint presentation works. And remind the public that cars and buses will be the dominant species in the 21st century. To that end, purchase a $2.3 million bus barn.
  4. Strike Fear: Convince as many parts of the community as possible that their schools are not worth saving, either by being too small (Lincoln), too close (Hoover) or too old (Mann) or too far away (Hills). Or just because – any reason will do. Or better yet, divide two neighborhoods to weaken resistance.
  5. The great compromise: We worked so hard to save as many as we could but alas we could not save them all. One is too close so it must close that others can live which makes all the others feel safe, warm and fuzzy. And by closing the one that’s too close, we can build a new one that’s too far.  No, wait, we saved the one that was too far so now we can build one where none exists at all. How else can private entities profit from public funds.
  6. Speed of action: Right, wrong or indifferent, you now have to move quickly before people have a chance to realize how much it will really cost. Remember it has been said at board meetings more than once that our school taxes are VERY low as compared to Ankeny.
  7. Résumé building: Remember every new school adds to your marketability. It always looks good on a résumé; and don’t forget to keep it updated. You never know when Lincoln, Nebraska will need a new administrator or your next political opportunity comes knocking.
  8. Don’t wait around for the bill: Make sure you get out of Dodge before they really know what it will cost. And remember, future employers ask vague questions too.

NEVER give elected officials money before they tell you exactly what it is for and how much it will cost. That goes for School Board, City Council, County Supervisor, State and National Legislators, Governor and President.

That’s a lesson we should have learned by now.

Phil Hemingway