Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why I'm not voting for Doherty

Tonight the Worcester School Committee sets its number one priority for major renovation/rebuild to send into the Mass School Building Authority. While we're forwarding Burncoat High and Worcester East Middle School, as well, the recommendation is that Doherty be designated as our number one priority.
I voted against this in subcommittee on Monday, and I'm voting against it again tonight.

Simply put, Doherty is not our building most in need of renovation or rebuilding.
Does it need renovation? Sure.
It doesn't need it more than Worcester East Middle, which was sent in for windows, roof, and boiler years ago, got the boiler, but awaits our designation as a number one priority to go ahead with the roof and windows along with the systems upgrades needed. The building has served us since 1924. It is solidly built and in great shape. It's only going to stay that way with some upgrades, though, and those are overdue. They're also going to cost substantially less to finance than another entire comprehensive high school, at a time when we're about to break ground on Nelson Place and we're just beginning the planning for South.

It doesn't need it more than the Burncoat complex, which by both MSBA ranking from their statewide assessments and by NEASC reports has many more issues than Doherty. Burncoat High was built as three small schools: it has no single cafeteria, it has no high school-sized library, it has no auditorium (it's in the middle schoo), and the school health office is actually in the middle school. It's also running a citywide and renowned arts magnet program with an auditorium with the acoustics of a barn, practice rooms in such terrible shape that they're kept locked, dance studios that are really just shop rooms (with no changing space), no theater room (it's the lobby of the auditorium), and art rooms that are either just classrooms or a converted (small school) cafeteria.
And Burncoat has land to build on.

Look, I get why people are going to vote for this.
But we're being asked tonight to designate, not loudest want, but actual greatest need.
And that's not Doherty.
Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
 Edmund Burke, "Speech to the Electors of Bristol," November 3, 1774

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