UCSD's approach to spending money is like New Hartford's: "Just give us the money now and we'll figure out what to do with it later." This is a serious flaw in the characters running our school systems that ultimately will lead to higher operating costs and school taxes. Salivating contractors will dream up all kinds of things to sell to the schools, most of which will not result in any improvement in the quality of student graduates. Learning does not require fancy buildings with sophisticated gadgets. However, poorly designed or located buildings, and gadgets, can waste time and distract from learning.
As long as everyone is putting in their 2 cents on how to spend money, here is
- Re-establish neighborhood schools, particularly at the elementary level.
- Re-establish on-site vocational education in high school.
In short, roll back the decisions that destroyed the structural advantages that the Utica City School District traditionally enjoyed over its suburban rivals.
Get off the bus. While unavoidable in the suburbs, Utica is populated densely enough that most busing could be eliminated. Buses are a bane. Students waste time riding them, don't get enough exercise because of them, and are discouraged from seeking after-school help by having to stick to their schedule. Each neighborhood would again have its own school, allowing students, parents and community to know each other. Eliminating busing and re-establishing neighborhood schools will make students healthier, smarter, and better behaved.
Make vocational education part of regular education. Unlike the suburbs, Utica has enough students by itself to support voc-ed programs right in the high school rather than busing the students to BOCES in New Hartford. Immediately the students would gain at least a class period of time by eliminating the cross-town trip. Scheduling voc-ed subjects with regular academic subjects would be easier because all coursework would be on-site. The BOCES "stigma" (that it is for "dummies") will be eliminated. Easier access and elimination of the stigma will encourage more students to take voc-ed. The result will be more (and more knowledgeable) voc-ed graduates and trades people.
Hopefully UCSD will make the right choices.