Wednesday, May 21, 2014

VERY Misplaced Priorities

Did you hear about the Texas high school football field that had to be shut down because of structural integrity problems?  Actually, it would be wrong to call it a "Field"--it's really a full-blown stadium--complete with its own "skyboxes" and capacity for 18-thousand people.  It's just a couple of years old, but extreme cracking in the concrete on the "Concourse Level" of the stadium has forced inspectors to shut it down.  Apparently, 60-million dollars just doesn't get you quality construction anymore.

That's right, I just said that the high school football field cost 60-MILLION DOLLARS!!!  (That loud THUD you just heard was every School District Superintendent in the Fox Valley passing out from shock)

Anyone who has read the book Friday Night Lights knows that high school football is a religion in Texas.  (You could argue that it's bigger than religion--because how many 60-million dollar, 18-thousand seat churches are there in the state?)  But the good folks in Allen have decided to take that up more than a few notches.  Believe it or not, this shrine to excess was approved overwhelmingly by Allen voters in a special referendum.  Little money was raised from the private sector--taxpayers were expected to foot the bill.  And they did so more than willingly.  The population of Allen is just over 89-thousand people.  That means each resident is paying $675 each for a facility that is used just a handful of times a year--and can't be used at all now because of shoddy craftsmanship.

The stadium is result of an "arms race" if you will between Texas schools to have the biggest and the best of everything when it comes to football.  Eagle Field had to be this size--and this opulent--because the Plano schools just down the built a new field a few years back that was better that Allen's.  I'm sure more than a few voters went to the polls thinking "There ain't no way those Plano kids are gonna have a better place to play ball than my kids."

But just think what the Allen School District could have done with that 60-million dollars.  I'm sure that could get you a better cyber cafe than the one they put in at Oaklawn Elementary School here in Oshkosh.  You could outfit every kid with not only a tablet computer--but a smartphone, Google Glass and their own full-time IT support person.  You could have built a full-scale replica of Mount Everest behind the high school instead of some crummy little climbing wall.  And by not spending that money, you could have sent a message to all students that there is more important things in high school than winning every Friday night.

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