Art Attack – High School Confidential
We are almost two months away from May and the start of our annual May Festival of the Arts, a festival that has the potential to… We Interrupt This Art Column For The Following Rant:
I attended part of the Feb. 12 Open Town Meeting sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Eureka Springs School Board to discuss what to do with the now vacant former high school. It seems this “valuable piece of real estate” has great potential to become many things – a new school of the arts, community center, a new home for our historical museum, city offices, Boys and Girls Club, trade school, senior center – pretty much anything except a high school. The list was endless, with everyone seeming to want a piece of this now very juicy pie.
Weren’t we, the taxpayers, sold on the idea of a spankin’ new, $12 million, 80,000 sq. ft. high school to house 200 students because the old one was falling down, asbestos and mold ridden, posed serious health risks to our youth and way beyond repair?
Now, suddenly, asbestos is no problem and can be “contained,” mold can be cleaned up and the building structure, as it turns out, is quite solid. Just a routine Building Evaluation Report (BER) and, voilá, the building of everyone’s dreams. Why didn’t former Superintendent Wayne Carr and his over-zealous school board obtain a BER before launching into its huge PR campaign to sell the public on a new, bloated, costly, vanity high school?
“The current high school is killing our kids, it needs to be leveled and a new multi – million dollar facility built. If you are not for this, you are obviously anti-child…” It was a strategy stolen straight out of the Support our Troops playbook. Their propaganda was omnipresent – in newspaper stories, op-eds, letters to the editor, on Facebook and around the water cooler. How could you not support our precious kids?
It was ridiculous not investing in the old school in this recession era – to simply bring it up to code at a fraction of the price of the new. Imagine what the millions saved could have been used for, not just for kids, but the entire community.
People tell me it’s time to move forward, the new school is built, the debate in the past, but our increased property taxes are very much in the present and long into the future. The taxpayers were sold a false bill of goods – shouldn’t someone be held responsible for this scam?
We now return to our regularly scheduled column …Yes, the May Festival of the Arts will be grand!