Sunday's "Description of proposed school construction project" was a third time article by Christine Jax, Ph.D., Commissioner. (Commissioner of what?) Her words are proof the writer has never seen or been in Franklin school.
Franklin has great parking, only second to Brainerd High. MnDOT recently deeded over to Franklin the large parking lot along Washington Street. Franklin's structure and brick exterior are a preserved taste of excellent building of the past. Most windows, doors, and roofs in all three additions are new. The rooms are large and well kept, many 1,600-2000 square feet. The halls are extra wide and spotless. The school has two gymnasiums and a deep padded wrestling room in the basement. We checked flushing and faucets in girls' and boys' bathrooms and found no rusty water or abnormal pressure as stated by school board members. There were no great electrical problems in the 1954-1962 additions and the original '32 building has kept pace; the auditorium seats just under 500, has a nice size stage and great acoustics; the library/media center is a huge 3,588 square feet and should be the envy of every school in Minnesota (beautifully equipped). The two boilers produce adequate heating, the newest 1995, both well maintained by one of the best maintenance staffs in the district. Hot water or steam heat is the cleanest heat you can have and gives the best air quality there is; circulation is where those expensive fans come in.
The important things are Franklin's base and the neighborhood. With 16 acres in back and the greatest school parking, this school could look like the Taj Mahal.
Take Principal Cathy Engler's Riverside School as an example, the latest addition in 1995 was 29,864 square feet, cost $3.8 million and now is a showplace of schools. Her own words were, "Right now we do not need a thing." Franklin can be the same for a small piece of that $47 million Baxter mega school with its $4,000,000 architect/engineering fees, $1,400,000 construction management fee, $1,750,000 site work, $475,000 contingency fee and $225,000 commissioning review (independent). Washington School also has new windows, new roofing and two good boilers for clean hot water/steam heat and clean air. We stepped off two empty classrooms of about 40'x60' or 2,400 square feet, huge for any school. Granted the basement shower rooms, halls and store rooms have been left to deteriorate; but plaster, paint and a little work and it would be like new. We kept hearing about wiring for more computers, and lighting in the halls and rooms were dim and not up to code! But when our group went through Mississippi Horizons we all agreed the lighting in Washington was brighter than that newly remodeled Tech school and the Principal Carol Munns stated Horizons' lighting was up to code although it seemed dim to us.
Many studies have proven smaller schools are better; they offer safer atmosphere, higher student achievement and graduation rates and fewer discipline problems. "You've got to have a school to have a neighborhood" (Beaumont). "Vote 'no' on March 12 referendum" till they come up with a better plan.
We meet Saturday, Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m. at the Brainerd Library. The door is open.
(Begin is a Fort Ripley resident and a member of People for Postponement of the March 12 Referendum.)
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