It was going to be a "feel good story: The Oaklawn Elementary School Construction Project Comes in Three-Million Dollars Under Budget!" Taxpayers who finally allowed the District to move forward on rebuilding the saddest excuse for a school in the city are rewarded with having to spend less than everyone expected. Theeeennnnnnn the Oshkosh School Board stepped in.
Last night, the Board approved $2.1-Million in "upgrades and additions" to the Oaklawn Project. Not all of the additions are that questionable. Thermal fused flush doors sound like they would increase the energy efficiency of the building--and save on heating bills. A climbing wall is place at several other schools around the District and have the double impact of not only teaching kids a sport they can enjoy for most of their lives--but also builds their confidence by overcoming fears and meeting new challenges. Ipad docking stations will be needed as we move further into the "textbook free" future of education. And moveable walls allow greater flexability in class sizes and room arrangements.
But of course, there are some additions that just make you scratch your heads. Take for instance installation of a solar hot water heating system. The school year covers the shortest days of the year--meaning less solar energy generation than during the summer, when kids aren't in the building. I'll give the Board the benefit of the doubt here--since elementary school children don't shower after gym class or sports events--hot water usage is probably much less than at older grade levels. Besides, it's important to them to be able to brag about how "green" their buildings are.
Then you have installation of Terrazzo flooring in the building. When you consider that the main "clientele" are still struggling to control all of their bodily functions--I hope VOBAN doesn't ruin the finish on Terrazo floors.
But the biggest puzzler is the construction of a Cyber Cafe at Oaklawn. Isn't this the generation of kids that spend too much time on the internet and watching TV and playing video games? So we are going to give them an area AT SCHOOL to sit on the internet? Makes sense to me.
I guess we should consider ourselves luckier than taxpayers in districts like Howard-Suamico--where the school board used referendum money to build a SOLARIUM at the replacement for my old school, Bay Port. Or those in the Wausau School District--who had to pay for a PLANETARIUM at West High School. But I can't help feeling like the parent who gives twenty bucks to his 12-year old to "see a movie"--only to find out they went to the arcade and McDonalds on the way home. "You didn't tell me you wanted change" they always say.