The misinformation on the pool referendum by the OPRF school board, the Vote Yes Committee, and indeed this paper’s editorial page is legion. Allow me to explain.
Disciplined Financial Analysis vs. The Pea in the Shell Game: When I was a freshly minted MBA in finance from the University of Michigan in 1974, one of my first jobs was to analyze factory automation projects in the automotive industry, more complex than this situation. Somehow I managed to reach the position of corporate director of Automotive Planning for the largest supplier of engineered automotive components. I seem to know something about financial analysis.
The cost of the 40-meter pool is not just the blinders-on cost of the pool itself. We’ve got to include the associated costs to make it happen. A 40-meter pool cannot reasonably fit in the existing field house. It requires tearing down an outside load-bearing wall, building across an alley, and then — oops — there’s a 300-car garage in the way! So that needs to be purchased (the village owns it), and demolished. To make this situation saleable, another garage must be built. The costs to do that garage part are $12.7 million, and the total difference between the pool plans is $15 million.
Forget the other window dressing the school has added, such as experimental classrooms. Those can be done with existing cash, and serve to confuse the issue. And making space for performing arts can also be handled differently, as can any issue with adaptive PE.
D200’s Petulant Threat of the Aftermath of a Referendum Defeat: D200 has said that if the voters reject its plan, that it will not consider the Pragmatic Pool Plan (which was designed by their own architects). I’ll characterize that stance with some descriptors: My way or the highway. Childish temper tantrum. Go for broke, and double down. It’s my ball and I’m taking it home. Suicide pact. Brinksmanship. I’m going to hold my breath till I die. Let them eat cake. Dig in our heels. Custer’s Last Stand. And more. What a lack of respect for the community. Such arrogance.
Here’s the likely outcome. Jeff Weissglass, the board president, was quoted in these pages as saying that a loss might mean moving another referendum to 2018. That means he fears a vote in the only election scheduled in 2017, April 4, when District 97 will place its operating tax referendum on the ballot. That could be fratricidal, where both could lose.
If they go for a referendum and win in March 2018, only then can Weissglass start the architects drawing detailed plans, which take a long time, and where subcontractors take months to line up. Since construction has to start in June, to avoid major disruption, it will begin in June 2019, take two years, and his 40-meter pool will be available for students in August 2021 — rather late. But only if he wins in 2018. Is he willing to make that bet? Or will he and the board, add the word “compromise” to their vocabulary and start a reasonable plan now?
And remember, his seat, and a majority of the board seats, are up for election in April.
Vote No in November and demand a better plan.
Kevin Peppard (OPRF Class of 1966) is the treasurer of OPRF Pragmatic Pool Solutions.