I attended the latest meeting of the Citizens Facility Advisory Committee (CFAC) for the West Bend School District last night. They accidentally dropped a bombshell.
First, a little background. The CFAC was created by the School Board. It’s specifically charged with:
…identifying and confirming needs and exploring potential solutions to our district’s facility needs at Jackson Elementary School and East/West High Schools
I will remind the gentle reader that when this was created back in August, I wrote extensively about how this was a sham process designed to lead to a referendum. Bray Architects was hired by the district to run this process and they have a sales model of selling new schools to gullible taxpayers using faux “advisory” committees that always seem to end up at the same conclusion. My interpretation has been vehemently denied.
At the meeting last night, they all but admitted that the CFAC is not about assessing needs and evaluating options – as stated in the committee’s charge. No, the decision to build a new Jackson School has already been decided and the committee’s job is to help Bray and the School Board find the best way to sell it to the taxpayer.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it. The Washington County Insider was there and has it on video. Here is the relevant video. Skip ahead to about 4:45 and listen to that exchange.
Here’s the exchange in print:
Bray facilitator: “The decision to build a new Jackson school was made in the prior efforts that was reviewed at the last committee meeting.”
Committee member: “Why do we need to go through all of this?”
Bray Facilitator: “Because we need to help the community understand why a new Jackson is being considered.”
There you have it.
The committee members are not actually determining needs and evaluating potential solutions as their charter states. The solution has been determined and they are just trying to identify the hot button “needs” that will sell it. The committee members are being used as a community focus group to help the School Board and Bray figure out the best way to sell a new school – funded with a referendum – to the citizens.
One final related, but side, note. The School District has been a woeful job of keeping the community informed. In this case, the CFAC website is hasn’t even bothered to post the agenda or minutes from the last two meetings. They don’t even have the dates and times of the meetings posted even though it is a public meeting. This is consistent with visibility to other meetings. Since earlier this year, they are doing a very poor job of posting agenda, minutes, videos, etc. like they had been doing previously. Transparency at the West Bend School District has taken a big step backward.