New Castle News

All About You ...

October 29, 2012

Mitchel Olszak on Your Schools: Lockley vote leaves major mess

NEW CASTLE — So now what?

Last week’s vote by the New Castle school board to kill the Lockley school consolidation project — followed by the decision of superintendent George Gabriel to resign — leaves a lot of questions in the city school system.

And it leaves a fair amount of anger, frustration and confusion.

For a couple of years now, the district has been moving haltingly toward a major expansion and renovation of the Lockley elementary school. The project would coincide with the closing of other elementary schools in the district, essentially creating a single elementary facility in New Castle.

A key factor in this proposal is the deteriorating condition of the district’s elementary schools. Members of the administration have said that based on funding formulas and assorted expenses, it would be more cost effective over time to pursue new construction at Lockley and close the other schools than to make repairs and renovations.

But this plan never enjoyed unanimous public — or board — support. Considerable skepticism exists over the notion of building a new school in New Castle, where student population has experienced a long decline with no reversal of this trend in sight.

Plus, there are still residents who are unhappy with the decision to demolish and replace the old New Castle High School. The new structure is now running at about 60 percent of capacity, which adds to doubts about additional construction.

Final approval for the Lockley plan hit a snag when bids came in higher than anticipated. After the project was massaged a bit, a second round of bidding brought back numbers closer to the mark at roughly $23 million.

But this failed to impress a majority on the board. And by a 5-4 vote last week, the Lockley project was rejected.

In reaction to that — along with indications some board members were looking for a change at the top of the administration — Gabriel submitted a pre-written letter of resignation. Without fanfare, the same five members who shot down the Lockley plan accepted Gabriel’s departure, effective Jan. 31.

So is the Lockley project truly kaput? That’s difficult to say. While some board members have been adamantly opposed to it, others have been inconsistent. Maybe they’ll switch again. Maybe not.

What I do know is the Lockley opponents now constitute the majority on the school board. And they owe it to the public to explain where they stand and what’s going to happen now. They were oddly silent on these matters at least week’s meeting.

Whatever one thinks of this proposal, last week’s vote was a big deal on very serious and expensive matters. The district has spent about $1.5 million on architectural and other preparatory work leading up to the actual construction. The vote vaporizes this money.

What do taxpayers think about that?

Obviously, if the project was not to be pursued, this money never should have been spent. It represents poor planning and poor leadership.

Speaking of which, I think blame for the current mess can be spread around. Only token efforts were conducted by the administration and construction supporters to bring the public or the larger community into the fold. Five votes on the board were deemed to be sufficient.

So now we have a divided, angry board and a divided, angry public. And because matters pertaining to the New Castle school district are steadfastly avoided by other local officials and entities, I’m wondering where the leadership is going to come from to resolve this mess.

Any ideas?

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
All About You ...
  • Ramsey.jpg Dave Says: Retirement savings trump college fund

    “Dave Says” is a weekly column featuring financial advice from nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. His column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual letters and calls on Ramsey’s radio progam, “The Dave Ramsey Show.”
     

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brothers.jpg Lori Brothers: Healthy food comes from a healthy Earth

    I am proud to know that Earth Day originated in the U.S. but became recognized worldwide by 1990. I can remember ordering baby trees to plant in celebration of Earth Day.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • stright.jpg Sarah Stright-Hartley: These pastels will put a spring in your step

    Is it just me or are pastels ubiquitous with spring? Once the season hits, they're everywhere. It's taken me awhile to jump on the pastel bandwagon and even still I can't wear them head to toe like some women do.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • Kali.jpg Kali Davies-Anderson: Experiment proves cake really is a slice of heaven

    There are few things on this earth and beyond that I love more than cake.  I love my family, I love my friends, I love Jesus, and I love cake — and not necessarily in that order (sorry, family).

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • peaches.tiff Your Summer Treats: Poor peach crop expected

    Local peaches may be scarce in Lawrence County this summer. County fruit farmers are watching their peach trees closely, not sure how badly they were damaged by the winter’s extreme cold.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hudson.jpg Culinary Conversation: Think globally, cook locally

    Another set of bookshelves might be necessary at my house very soon. It’s been a bountiful week. Edie Majesky of New Castle, who I have known most of my life, is aware of how much I love collecting old cookbooks.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ramsey.jpg Dave Says: Problems with no credit score?

    “Dave Says” is a weekly column featuring financial advice from nationally syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey. His column is filled with timely, relevant questions and answers taken from actual letters and calls on Ramsey’s radio progam, “The Dave Ramsey Show.”
     

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brothers.jpg Lori Brothers: Play with names — not with your food

    Do you remember being told, “don’t play with your food” when you were a child?  Or maybe you’ve said this to your own children or grandchildren. I’ve heard stories about kids slipping food under the table to the dog or stuffing Brussels sprouts into their pockets to get out of the pain of eating them.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • stright.jpg Sarah Stright-Hartley: A T-shirt dress can be a three for all

    I love finding pieces that can be worn for just about every portion of my life.  From daytime, to work, and then on a date with my husband, I like pieces that can go the distance.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ivy_bday.jpg Kali Davies-Anderson: Happy birthday, Miss Ivy!

    This week I would like to take time out of my usual ramblings to wish my second born daughter, Ivy, a very, very happy first birthday!

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

House Ads
Poll

It’s been a unique week on the marriage front. Actress Jodie Foster married her longtime girlfriend, while a lesbian trio that wed last year, who bill themselves as a “throuple,” have announced they are expecting. What’s your take on alternative unions?

I’m against it. I believe in one man, one woman.
I’m OK with it. As long as they’re adults, they can marry whoever they want.
A lesbian “throuple?” Really? SMH.
     View Results