School board member takes issue with election profile assertion
I am writing to correct a statement made in a candidate profile that ran in your paper just before the April election. Another school board candidate (who was not my opponent) stated that I want to rebuild West for $300 million. This is an inaccurate portrayal of my involvement in the West-Romig as a Center of Community master plan. I joined the steering committee for redeveloping the West-Romig campus because of my position as the executive director of the Anchorage School Business Partnerships, a program that sets up partnerships between businesses and organizations with K-12 schools in the Anchorage School District. Any ASD project that potentially includes and encourages the community to participate in education is of interest to the partnership program.
The concept of redesigning schools so that school facilities can stay open longer hours and the community can play a part in education is driven by both sound educational and fiscal goals. Inviting businesses to operate in and give back to a high school educational facility gives students the opportunity to develop employability skills and explore various careers. It also brings the community into schools to assist with education as well as provide access to opportunities and services that students and families might not otherwise receive. School design, however, must also take into account security issues and this balance is precisely what the West Romig Redevelopment plan does.
Redesigning schools as Centers of Community can allow public facilities that are already paid for with public dollars to be used more hours in the day and more months in the year than they are currently being used. By pursuing such a goal, Anchorage will derive the maximum benefit from tax-payer investment in schools. No formal cost estimates have yet been yet been done for redeveloping the West and Romig Campus as a center of community school and there are dollar amounts being thrown around that vary by hundreds of millions. What is missing is an accurate cost estimate of redevelopment and a thorough discussion about the role that businesses can and should play in education.
Whether the Anchorage School District pursues developing Schools as Centers of Community will be shaped by budget constraints and a community and District dialog about how educational facilities should be used for the maximum benefit of student education.
~ Tam Agosti-Gisler