By Mayor Carmen R. Freeman
Shortly after the hit movie “High School Musical” made it to the movie theaters, a number of film critics evaluated the film. As best as I can recall, one particular critic questioned why the movie was filmed in such an unrealistic and improbable atmosphere instead of an actual high school. In his opinion, such a setting as an actual high school would have offered the viewer a more accurate and meaningful appraisal of what life was like in a typical school.
In response to the film critic’s concern, those involved in the production of the movie pointed out that the movie was indeed filmed at an actual school—East High School—and that Utah was blessed with a number of similar schools which were attractively constructed and wonderfully furnished.
As parents and residents of our community, each of us should feel grateful and fortunate to live in such an area where our children are educated in remarkable and unequalled facilities. Certainly, without saying, we want the very best for our children.
However, in this age of economic volatility, financial uncertainty and the rising cost of goods and services, we must look at a practical and more common sense approach on how we construct our schools. As we consider our growing population and the number of schools that will be required, I believe the time has come to be more creative. It is time to think outside traditional norms, be more practical and perhaps most importantly, build what we can afford.
Certainly, as we consider a budgetary reduction in school construction, student safety and learning must never be compromised. But I have been, and continue to be, a firm believer that taking a more practical and economical approach to constructing our schools can be accomplished without jeopardizing the safety of our students or inhibit their capacity to excel academically.
Because I am so passionate about this issue, I have recently volunteered to participate with an advisory committee to look at various ways we can be more cost efficient with respect to school construction. Hopefully, as we engage in this process, creative and dynamic options will be considered to ensure the fiscal longevity of public education and help reduce the financial burden placed on the shoulders of our taxpayers. In the next few months a report of the committee’s findings will be submitted to the Board of Education for their consideration.
As we look to the future with respect to school construction funding, I am reminded of the counsel Winston Churchill once gave. During the dark days of World War II when England was struggling financially, he gathered his committee together and said, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money; now we have to think.”
Now is our time to “think” resourcefully and ingeniously and with a little common sense with respect to the construction of our schools.