Leave the school planning to experts

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I would like to offer some comments regarding the Juneau Empire's July 9 article entitled "School debate shifts to cost predictions."

The article presented information regarding the current cost estimates which the city and the school district have prepared for either a Marie Drake renovation or a Valley high school new build.

In particular it's interesting to note Mr. Dave Hanna's response to these initial numbers. As a co-sponsor of the recent initiative which blocked the previously planned high school, Mr. Hanna immediately goes on record in this article as being in favor of the Marie Drake renovation. This seems to completely contradict statements that Mr. Hanna et al have made on their (Juneau Students First) Web site which suggest that after the initiative passes "... a new planning effort must begin without a predetermined outcome." Well, it seems that Mr. Hanna has a pre-determined outcome in his mind, right out of the gate.

This is obvious from the vagueness with which Mr. Hanna presents his position. For example, and I quote here from the Empire article in all cases, "he thinks" that the Marie Drake building can be renovated and enlarged for $22 million. He also "thinks" that a parking garage would cost half as much as the estimate by the city. His view is that we could just build for another 300-400 students and "that ought to be enough."

These are all extremely vague statements which suggest that Mr. Hanna is simply pulling numbers out of the air in an effort to knock down any option other than the one he favors. He offers no substantiation for these statements. Yet even if he could, I have to ask the following question. How is it that Mr. Hanna considers his knowledge and wisdom of these subjects to be so much greater than that of the city employee's and the school district representatives who have spent so much time and effort on this project?

I would really suggest that Mr. Hanna curtail his highly opinionated public statements and leave the financial assessments and school construction estimates to the professionals whose full-time jobs are to deal with such subjects.

Patrick Cuddihy

Auke Bay

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