---- — We note that the next meeting of the Literary Discussion Group, sponsored by the Women's Club of Cooperstown, will be held on Thursday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the Village of Cooperstown Library. Jane Anne Russell will lead a discussion on the book "North to the Orient" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The meeting is open to the public.
Also coming up this month will be the second vote on a proposed CCS capital project. The total cost of the project has been reduced to $5.95 million from its original cost of $6.6 million. According to the school’s website, the vote will be held on Wednesday, March 12 in Room 304-305 at the high school, located on Linden Avenue in Cooperstown, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. It should be noted that this is a change in the hours the polls will be open. While the polls will open four hours earlier than normal, they will close one hour earlier than normal. A second vote is being held as the first vote resulted in a tie, 180 for to 180 against, which meant the project did not pass. Thus district residents are being asked to vote on the slightly reduced proposed project again.
And in light of that upcoming vote, it is interesting, we think, that one of the items we have discovered in our cleaning out of papers in our basement is a folder entitled "News Clipping ... 2005 CCS Capital Project." As many will no doubt remember, that capital project garnered a great deal of protest and was, in fact, defeated by a wide margin with 1,365 voting against the project and 331 voting for it. We found reading through the various articles and letters about the proposed 2005 capital project to be rather interesting.
We had remembered that a group of district residents formed the Concerned Citizens Group which waged a substantial protest against the project. They printed a brochure which was delivered, by volunteers, throughout many of the district's neighborhoods. In the brochure it was stressed that the student population was declining, but the school costs were escalating. It also pointed out that it was "Your Capital - Their Project." And while the project was put forth as being a $20 million project, with the projected $12.7 million in interest, the total cost of the project would have been about $32 million.
And while we remembered all of this, what we did not remember was the lead time given to the public about the 2005 capital project. From the newspaper clipping we reviewed it seems that the project was first brought to the public’s attention in a Feb. 12, 2004 column entitled “CCS News.” In it, the then superintendent provided what we think is an excellent explanation of the purpose of a capital project by writing: “A community’s focus on its institution of public education primarily centers on curriculum and instruction, but another major aspect of a district’s functions is the maintenance and improvement of its facilities. Each year our district establishes a budget for routine maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and property that comprise our campus.
There are times however, when major projects need to be accomplished and financed outside of the regular annual budget process.”
This made perfect sense then and it makes perfect sense now. In fact, we would be hard pressed to figure out how one might disagree with this explanation. It is certainly no different than expenses homeowners experience while maintaining their homes. But the seemingly ubiquitous problem with all capital projects is not understanding the need for improvements but rather on reaching agreement on what is needed and what is desired as well as what is affordable and what is not. Both of these questions always seem to be the sticking point with capital projects especially in school districts where there is a fair amount of socio-economic diversity.
And never was that more obvious than it was with the CCS 2005 proposed capital project. Of course, the 2005 capital project was not the first school vote to be defeated. Nor would it seem it will be the last. But we do think it will stand out as being the most overwhelming defeat of a school vote.
We have also come across a number of complaints we have received over the years about various items which have appeared in the column. The most notable concerns an item which appeared in the column of Feb. 10, 1993 when we wrote: “Not long ago a local resident ... had some blood work done and afterwards was told by the attendant that the hospital had no band-aids and so he would have to tape a gauze pad over the vein from which the blood had been drawn. However the gauze pad did not stop the flow of blood. Indeed, the out-patient continued to bleed until she produced from her purse her own band-aid which the hospital attendant then applied to her arm.”