Saturday, October 12, 2013

Should the Magnificent Berry School Meet the Wrecking Ball?



Take a long hard look at this magnificent building.   This school has a tradition with Lebanon citizens.   I haven't spoken with one person that believes that this building is ready for the wrecking ball.   In fact, the people in charge thought the school was worthy of investing millions of dollars in renovations.

When power is "taken" by a few determined people they will run roughshod over the rest of us.   They will make decisions that they do not have to pay for.   They will force the rest of us to pay higher and higher taxes for decisions that they made arbitrarily.    Those people will be long gone, leaving the property owners with the long term debt.

The school board has spent millions and millions of our tax dollars to improve and update Berry School.   Very recently, a major investment was spent in the heating and air conditioning system.   They spent huge amounts on a local consultant to advise the district the on implementation of the new system.   Additionally a consultant came from Columbus to help plan the new system.     The consultants were questionable and their services extremely expensive.   I was told that a decent heating and air company would have given their expertise free if the contract had been put out for bids.

A few years ago the district spent $1.5 million dollars on an unbid "energy savings plan" for Berry.   The district recently obtained $3 million by obligating the taxpayers to even more debt that we did not vote  for.   Where was this money spent?      Newer windows can be seen to help insulate the building.   The school is blessed with a beautiful auditorium.  There is a huge addition that can be seen in the photograph.
Children and parents love the school and are quite comfortable with this school.   But it doesn't seem to be "good enough" for the few that are determined to destroy the traditions of Lebanon.   This small group will be long gone and we will be left with the debt.  We know that Mark North signed a contract with Beaver Creek  and was on his way out of Lebanon.   Somehow he was given (our tax money) an incentive to stay.   So we can surmise that he will go,  just as Bill Sears left.  They all leave when the debt gets out of hand and these incompetents just can't figure out to fix or hide their messes.    As long as there is a surplus of cash, they will hang around.

Remember that none of those involved in the decisions are professionals.   The superintendent was a teacher, he was not a financial or construction expert.  He was not a professional manager of construction, finance and other million dollar corporate style projects.   He isn't even an economist or CPA accountant.  Neither was Bill Sears.    Multi-million dollar projects need the steady hand of an experienced financial adviser.  They have to pay consultants for everything. They even pay thousands and thousands for consultants to perform  surveys of one sort or another.  A simple survey can be made by anyone.      

We saw the mess that was made with the new  high school and Bowman projects.  The people that, (Bill Sears, Donna Norris (payroll clerk) and ?????),  ran those projects.  What was their expertise?  They didn't have a clue.  They wasted a lot of money (millions) along the way.   

First of all, there is forty acres available at the old high school (now the junior high school) .   Instead of planning a nice campus, the board and Sears bought the Drake Road acreage.  This property did not have any of the necessary requirements of infrastructure for the building.  Knowing this, they went ahead and paid a greatly inflated price for the property.  

Secondly, Bill Sears had meetings with a few people and questioned them about the possibility of building single grade level schools.   Most of the people, including the teachers, advised him to build a normal elementary school.  That it would be better for the children, the parents and save money in busing.     They were shocked when he went ahead and did it "his way."

That same board and Mr. Sears decided to contract with "Laidlaw" to perform the busing of the students.    This was done against good advice from others that had gone that route.   The district tax payers footed the bill for the millions and millions of dollars that was paid to Laidlaw.   The buses were given away.  The district paid the drivers and mechanics.    What did Laidlaw do?   Well, they had a computer program to figure out the bus routes.

Now they have decided to return to "in house" busing.   That means they have to buy new buses.   Remember they gave away the buses.     

It simply doesn't make sense to demolish Berry School.   Our tax dollars have been spent by the millions to improve this Berry School.   Now the board (five people) and Mark North have decided to borrow even more millions to tear it down.   

The proposed levy is for 37 years.  Our great, great grandchildren will be paying off the debt that these few people have decided to impose on us.  That will not be the end of their "wants."   They will be back for more.  They always come back for more and more.

The school board: Donna Davis Norris, Chip Bonny, Esther Larson, Ryan Patterson and Laura Doughman.   Call these people and ask them a few questions.    Mark North says on the cards to call him.   I suggest that you do that.    Chip Bonny is an executive with LCNB.   Does anyone think that he has a big conflict of interest?

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