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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fiscal Crisis? Not in the Scranton School District!

Yes, apparently all the state budget cuts haven't hit the Scranton School District.  Everything is fine.  There is extra money just laying around.

How do I know the above is true?  Well among a few other things, I saw this little ditty in the Tuesday edition of the Scranton Times:

"The cost for the West Scranton Intermediate School gymnasium floor project will now be at least $168,437 more, with directors voting to install a hardwood floor instead of a synthetic floor.  The project, now at more than $1.1 million, includes major underground work for stabilization."

Now in fairness, I've played basketball on both hardwood and synthetic floors, and without doubt the hardwood floor is better.  Oh, and if money were no obstacle, the cost difference wouldn't matter.  But money is an obstacle here.  A big obstacle, as a matter of fact.  In fact it's a $168,437 obstacle.

Don't let the enormous size of building projects and school districts budgets fool you:  every amount counts when you are actually in a fiscal crisis.  School district budgets are like home budgets in that regard; if you are barely paying your bills you don't add luxuries.  But then again the Directors of the Scranton School District apparently don't think that there is a crisis.  My point in all of this cynicism is that the district shouldn't be spending any extra money on projects, let alone increasing the cost of a project by over 10% for reasons that quite frankly escape me.

Maybe a hardwood floor will cost less in the long run. I suspect though that, given the district's history of poor strategic facilities planning, this has more to do with personal preferences and an over-emphasis on athletics than anything else.

For the record, if there is an absolute, burning need to spend $168,000, I can think of a few better options:

  • 3360 more textbooks could be purchased (at an assumed cost of $50/book)
  • 1411 Kindle e-readers could be purchased (at an average cost of $119/reader)
  • 168 laptops could be purchased (at an assumed cost of $999/machine)

Apparently though athletic preference is more important than textbooks or other tools that can be used to teach students.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

That is usually how my budget goes, what do I want, then what do I need.