Sunday, November 02, 2008

RSD Caving?

The RSD modified the school facilities master plan, attempting to allay the public relations nightmare sparked by the poorly conceived document and fumbled process.

The amended master plan will go before the Orleans Parish School Board later this week for a binding vote with little or no time for review by either the public or the members of the OPSB themselves.

The modifications, delaying closure of keystone high school buildings like Frederick Douglass and Eleanor McMain, awarding an immediate new building on G.W. Carver campus, and moving a few other projects from phase II to phase I, tend to allay the more vocal concerns of organized school groups and alumni associations.

Whether or not the financial concerns of the Cowen Institute or the Bureau of Governmental Research have been addressed is not clear. The RSD has certainly not secured any additional funding beyond phase I of the master plan. It is appropriate to wonder whether or not the modified plan does enough to ensure equitable school facilities if funding does indeed prove difficult to secure beyond the first phase, even when accounting for the offered changes.

My take:

The modifications signal both the strength of organized New Orleans communities and the desperation of the RSD to quickly reverse public opinion.

The process is corrupted by a quick turnaround that gives educational advocates and OPSB officials just three days to review all the changes before a binding vote. There is no public comment period for the new plan and given the reluctance of sitting OPSB members to even read the original document, it would be appropriate to give citizens the time to summarize the changes on their behalf.

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