It's back to Square 1, sort of.
When the Warren County School Board's Physical Plant and Facilities Committee on Monday forwarded for consideration an amended Master Facilities Plan to the full board it was, in effect, reiterating a position the board took about a year ago when it considered a zero-interest bond issue to essentially rebuild Eisenhower Middle/High School.
In the amended version, the board would consider essentially rebuilding Eisenhower Middle/High School as a K-12 facility. The difference, other than the addition of five lower grades, would be the ability of the district to close two elementary schools.
But, here's the rub: There are still a number of people who believe the school board isn't serious about keeping Eisenhower open, that perhaps this amendment is some sort of ruse.
And so, the fronts appear to be aligned for a perfect storm nonetheless. The school board could reiterate its desire and financial commitment to keep Eisenhower within the district at the same time the group determined to establish an Eisenhower charter school is committed to remove it from the district.
Of course, there is the no small matter of the price tags attached to each of these movements. The cost of converting Ike to K-12 is not cheap. At this point it is uncertain just how expensive, but it could be as high as $25.4 million, about $6 million more than the district was contemplating when it considered the zero interest Qualified Zone Academy Bond for financing. Yet, $6 million to consolidate two elementary schools with the attendant long-term savings sounds like a fair deal to us.
On the other hand, watching Ike become charter is estimated to cost the district $1.6 million per year ad infinitum, while the district continues to operate the two elementary facilities that would have been consolidated in the K-12 move.
Throw into this dilemma the dramatic and continued decline of basic education funding from the state and the unknown response from the teachers union, which might be asked to make concessions in its contract, and you get a very difficult decision on the part of nine people who aren't paid a cent to make it.
The K-12 proposal from new Superintendent Brandon Huffnagel in his five-year plan wasn't designed to make things more difficult; neither was it designed to make things easier. We believe it was designed to provide a good education to students in the Northern Attendance Area without adversely affecting the district as a whole, while at the same time addressing some of the political realities of this fractured district.