An Open Letter to the citizens and leadership of Pike Road, Alabama
Friends, we need to talk. It is time to have a discussion as a community about the direction we wish to go in. There are many choices ahead, and we should make sure that we do not make hasty decisions that will be damaging to our posterity.
Right now it seems the biggest issue is that of our (voter approved) new school system.
Both “sides” of this issue seem to be talking over each other without really addressing the concerns of one another. I wanted to offer some constructive criticism to both corners, in the hope that we can move forward together as a community. I apologize if any of these critiques are harsh… that is just my writing style. Please don’t take offense.
First, the “Opposition” – these are the individuals wishing to replace Mayor Stone and the Council Members who support his plan for the school system. To begin with, yes, I get it… Fiscal Conservatism is “in” right now (at long last!). However, it seems to me to be a little silly for you to wrap yourselves in the momentum of the movement. Your answer to opponents who charge you with not wanting to create a school system boils down to, “Yes we do… we just want to be able to pay for it outright, without increasing any taxes”. Translated into reality, this means: Pike Road will never get it’s own school system. And if that is the position you have, it’s fine… you just need to be honest about it.
It is likely you all voted against the ad valorem tax last October. That is also fine… and you have your reasons. Perhaps you don’t have school-age children and don’t want your local taxes to increase in order to pay for other people’s kids to be educated within our community. That’s fine if you feel that way… just own it. But I have a feeling that your coalition might be slightly divided. Your goal is the same: “Stop the current town administration’s plans for a school system”… but some of you fall under the category above and just plain don’t want Pike Road to have a school system, while others of you would like to see one, but don’t like the specific plan that was set forth.
Understand that if your “side” wins, you are going to have to reconcile that division among your ranks.
Also understand that whatever the margins were, the will of the voters of Pike Road was to agree to the ad valorem tax for the purpose of creating a Pike Road School System. So, again, if your position is to not move forward with creating said school system, just be honest about that.
Now it is time for me to shake my finger in consternation at Mayor Stone and the people running for Council spots that support the current school system plan.
First things first – where did you get our e-mail addresses? I am going to give you all the benefit of the doubt and assume that you used campaign funds to pay a data miner to get a list of e-mail addresses associated with residents of Pike Road. I am going to believe that because that would be perfectly legal and much more morally and ethically acceptable than the alternative – that you are using e-mail addresses from people who signed up for the Official Pike Road Newsletter or other official list. If perchance that is the case, we need to see three things: 1) Admit it 2) Apologize for this abuse and 3) NEVER do it again.
Moving on, my biggest issue with you guys is the way things seem so generalized. I know that conventional wisdom says that politicians have to be broad and cheerful and shouldn’t even try to explain policy details… but, we are in the middle of a national shift back to interest in details. Four years ago, the nation elected a President who promised Hope and Change but no details. Now that he has completely failed to deliver on any of his vague promises, the nation regrets electing an empty-suit.
You are dealing with an engaged and intelligent People, and you should treat us as such.
There are real concerns about this plan. Due to my work schedule I was unable to attend any of the School Board Information sessions this past summer… so perhaps these things have been addressed. But there needs to be a better effort to put the details out there. Don’t try to dumb it down.
Address the specific concerns like:
- Has there been an actual cost study of building at the Waters versus building elsewhere? We may be getting the land “free” from the Waters… but do we not have to then make the actual school buildings more needlessly elaborate and expensive in order to conform to the architectural standards of the Waters? Would it end up being more economical to purchase land elsewhere and build quality, but more sensible school buildings?
- There are a lot of concerns over the Student Teacher aspect of this plan. Don’t sugarcoat things. This set up is great for the colleges and for the student teachers… but what are the benefits/drawbacks for the actual school children?
- Does the plan have a realistic budget… or did we use Federal Government Math (vastly over-estimate revenue while vastly under-estimating cost)??
In closing, I simply want to be straight-forward and say that I believe having a school-system open in 2015 (or 2016 at the latest, if necessary) is what I personally want for my family and for the Pike Road community. So, I will vote for whoever can deliver on that and will work to actually make that happen. BUT… that is not a rubber stamp approval to be reckless and reach that goal by doing stupid things along the way. I am looking for Town Leadership that will provide both the right end (a Pike Road School System) as well as the right means (fiscally responsible, sensible, wise).