Stan Mack plays Aladdin and wishes for federal money to build a school

Outgoing superintendent Mack made the press again – this time exposing his utter lack of basic economics and propensity for unrealistic, feel-good pipe dreams. Mack’s wish was profiled in the Star Tribune.

Robbinsdale schools superintendent Stan Mack is hoping to rub the magic stimulus funding lamp and get … a new school.

With less than two months remaining as superintendent before he retires, Mack is hoping the district can plug into school construction and renovation aid funds that are part of President Obama’s huge stimulus plan, designed to help rev up the recession-mired national economy. Mack said he and the school board are shooting for $20 million to $24 million, enough to build a new 1,000-student elementary school near the border of Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center, in the northeastern part of the district.

Here’s where the lack of economics knowledge is displayed:

“The goal is to get a grant that pays for the school,” said district spokesman Jeff Dehler. “And, therefore, no obligation to the local taxpayer.”

Ahem. Mr. Dehler: Where do you think grant money comes from? The taxpayer. Even the locals pay federal taxes. It’s not free money. Now, go to the corner and sit on a stool.

Mack harkens back to the good old days of the Great Depression and tries to rescue Robbinsdale Schools a la Franklin D. Roosevelt: building a new school and creating jobs — paid for by a public works program:

“I kind of relate it to a 21st-century WPA [Works Progress Administration],” said Mack, referring to one such public works effort in the 1930s. “We’re dealing with a similar situation. The federal response at that time was to put money into projects we have benefitted from in the long term … If that’s the direction we want to go in, children should be a central part of that. … We would produce a good school for the future for the northeastern part of the district, and also produce a number of new construction jobs.”

Ahem. Mr. Mack: your new construction jobs wouldn’t hire out of work folks like the WPA did. It would hire union workers and line the pockets of your contractors. It’s not for the kids. It’s for the SEIU, the RFT, and various trade construction unions. Again, you ask the public to reward your failure to plan.

Happily, it seems the public isn’t buying what Mack’s wishing. The comments section so far is almost 100% against this ridiculous idea:

NO. You don’t get to close existing schools and then ask for new ones. If that is your planning ability in action, get out of public life please. We have to realize that structures can be updated and re-used. We have to get away from this notion that schools have to be bigger, better, newer, castles of affluence. You can teach kids in an existing structure. (and the pro sports teams need to learn the same lesson). We are tired of paying for the ego castles of the elected class.

And this reader offers an idea more grounded in reality, but not in contention because it grows student choice and not the unions:

Sell Pilgram Lane to Beacon Academy Charter Schools. 281 owns a closed building and Beacon needs a building. Stop looking at them as competition and understand that the schools share a common goal of educating our kids. Stop being afraid of them and realize that there’s room for both.

Thanks to the StarTribune for another enlightening article that exposes some dim bulbs.

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One Response to “Stan Mack plays Aladdin and wishes for federal money to build a school”

  1. give2attain Says:

    Make sure you are sitting down…. I agree with you !!! This story is almost surreal… (ie think happy thoughts and you can fly…)

    Though it always seemed to be Stan’s strategy based on his comments during the facility study: Reduce the district foot print to the point where something “had” to be done with Northport and Lakeview. Then someone will “have to” put up the money…

    As I blogged, it seems like a great thing for the NE communities, families and kids. And if a school is required in that neighborhood, I agree a new combined one is ideal. G2A Reality

    However it is certainly not a very cost effective solution for the tax payers given the buildings we already have available elsewhere in the district.

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