Friday, April 19, 2013

The Ostrich and Mt. Ararat High School

Last night, we found in our driveway a ‘free copy’ of what remains of the ‘once proud’ Ostrich. Or as it’s known to traditionalists, The Brunswick Times Record.

Inserted in the copy was a plaintive note fairly begging us to subscribe, for rates far better than they ever charged in the past.  For a split second, we thought about ….. and then just as quickly, our common sense returned, and we blew off any chance of taking them up on their offer.  If for no other reason, because paying them in advance for anything is the last thing that makes any sense.

With a quick glance at the pages, we discovered that Chris Miles is no longer the publisher.  Don’t no how long he’s been gone, and under what pretense, but there are only two names in the masthead….a publisher and a managing editor, neither of whose names we recognized.

All in all, with the departure of much of the reporting staff, and other dismal signs, we’d guess the NOTWIUN is in its last stages of life, at least as a 5 day a week daily.  The only question is whether they end it all quickly, or slowly plod down a more gradual slippery slope.

Coincidentally, the opinion page had a letter from a student at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham.  While praising the school in general, she talked of what a poor state of repair it’s in, and how that is effecting the learning process.  Leaky ceilings, mold, etc.  She said she knew the administration doesn’t have the money required for all the fixes; we wonder where she got that idea?  Plus, the school is ‘40 years old.’ 

Some of her other comments made it sound like the school was designed and built when ‘open classrooms’ were the great new breakthrough promoted by ‘professional educators,’ and lapped up 3 bowls full by School Boards and school architects.

If memory serves, Jordan Acres, the next school to be torn down in Brunswick was also designed as an open classroom ‘learning community,’ and this had been a source of concern for decades.

                      Save Jordan Acres Elementary School

Jordan Acres is an open space elementary building that opened in the fall of 1972. It was built on a nine acre site, which originally housed a two-room kindergarten building. Our school consists of a series of pods, each capable of containing approximately 80 students. The pods consist of three class areas, a wet area, and an amphitheater. As Brunswick grew, so did Jordan Acres. The Early Childhood Center was added in the fall of 1989, supplying an additional 8 classrooms.

We just discovered the last fact when we did a bit of searching.  It must be the beam that cracked from the snow load ran through every area of the school, so those 8 classrooms that are less than 25 years old can’t possibly be saved and used.  You know how it is; if you’re draining the bathwater, you might as well throw out the blah-blah-blah.

Apparently, officials in Topsham and the relevant school administrators, as well as the young letter writer, have not ‘gone to school’ on Brunswick’s leadership in such situations.  If they had, surely they would have realized they could let the snow build up on Mt Ararat roofs, and before you know it, the place could have been condemned. 

Voila!  Call PDT and have them start the new design!  The only challenge is whether they can handle Brunswick and Topsham simultaneously.

We wonder why Topsham wasn’t up to speed on school renovation strategy; could they have cancelled their subscription to The Ostrich a while back?

That’ll learn them!

As a final note, have you ever thought how much of Brunswick, Topsham, and Bowdoin College would still be standing if 40-50 years was the useful life of buildings?  With very few exceptions, Brunswick’s downtown would have to go.  Along with the majority of the Bowdoin Campus.  And a major share of area housing.

Apparently, not everyone follows the School Department physical asset model.  But then, most other folks aren’t playing with other people’s money, which can be quite addictive.

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