Unattached Equipment Assessment - Arkansas
Another Facilities Assessment & More Taxes
Assessment of “Unattached Equipment”
To Provide Equal and Adequate “Unattached Facilities” For All
It seems now that not only has the state taken over all the school buildings in Arkansas but is going to also be in charge of all “unattached equipment” in school districts! The Joint Committee on Educational Facilities voted on May 13 to establish a committee to oversee the assessing of all the “unattached equipment” (including items that cost less than $1,000) so all the supplemental material and equipment in schools can be made adequate and equal for all schools in Arkansas.
The idea that the magnification power of microscopes might need to be the same in all schools was discussed. Senator Broadway said if one school has 300 x power microscope and another school has 200 x power microscope, how do you deal with that. He said there are so many possibilities. Other things in science labs were discussed and the question raised as to how to make all that equipment equal. [If this is not getting into socialism and communism, then those terms have been redefined!]
Can you imagine going through the closets, cabinets and book shelves of every teacher’s room and assessing all the equipment. One wonders how much equipment just might be put out of sight so more equipment can be acquired by the teacher or district. Who would not have a tendency to do that because everyone knows how efficiently the government operates and how fairly it confers its gifts upon citizens and entities. It might be a long time before other equipment comes their way!
Once all the unattached equipment is made equal, how else will a school acquire more equipment except by going back and requesting it from the government (so the government can keep it equal). If the equipment has to be equal, we know there is not enough money in Arkansas to bring all schools up to par with some of the richer districts? Will the government go into some schools and take some of their equipment that parents and PTA’s have provided and give it to the poorer districts. Or will those richer districts where parents are willing to give more for education, be put on the shelf by the state as far as new equipment until the poorer districts catch up? To sit and listen to discussions like this from supposedly reasonable men in a free country is shocking and beyond belief.
All this reminds me of the quote by Churchill: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings; the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” Has anyone ever seen the socialist governments provide a better society or a more adequate education for its people than capitalism? Do some of our legislators even know what socialism is or have they not studied history?
The second thing this new assessment brings to mind is how much more is this going to cost Arkansas. On home insurance, the personal property (unattached equipment) is often valued at 70% of the value of the building. The $1 billion dollar figure that the media is using now for the possible amount needed to provide equal and adequate school building facilities for the assessment will likely be five to ten times that – (see other e-mail that I sent earlier) so can we assume we will add another 70% to that amount??. More than likely yes, especially in the light of Representative Elliot’s comment at the committee meeting, “There is a whole big world out there some of our schools have not seen. Some teachers don’t even know what a smart board looks like.”
In the discussion at the committee meeting Senator Broadway said they had talked for hours looking for the definition of “unattached equipment.” [ So we are going to assess and provide something we don’t even know what is.] Someone at the meeting said, “Some schools only do inventory for one thousand or more. We already do computers. We need those things under one thousand dollars on file some way so we can assess that as well.” [Wonder where they will place the cut off, hundred dollars or maybe down to five dollars.]
Mention was made about how much equality was necessary. Broadway said they were dumbfounded as to how to deal with this issue and that this information about this “unattached equipment” was needed in 3 or 4 months and that it would be a tremendous amount of work to develop definition and standards for it and to assess it. He said that not knowing how to come up with a definition of “unattached equipment,” he thought they needed another committee take this on. [This has probably not been done in any other states or else or they would have a definition by now.] He said his recommendation would be to put that committee together and have them develop a definition and standards. He said there probably was a way Arkansas could self assess this. [Wonder why they could not have done the same with the building assessments.] Motion on Broadway's recommendation was made and approved at the committee meeting. [Wonder what law gave them the authority to do this assessment of unattached facilities!!!]
Representative Fite made the one sane comment, saying they could get in such a situation of too much micromanaging and asked didn’t the superintendents have any wisdom. He directed this to the new ADE Director, Ken James. Ken James answered by saying something about some districts having community support to help with these things, but that as you look at microscopes and things like that, there needs to be equity. He said he thought these sub groups could come up with these [standards and definitions]. He further said inequities do exist across the state. He also said the committee on “unattached equipment” should also include businesses and that they would be willing to participate and donate.
Rep. Elliott said she knew what “unattached equipment” was. She said thinking about it in areas of discipline was the way to go. She said she knew what supplemental equipment she needed to teach her subject. She also mentioned copy machines. Equity in things like that is definitely necessary, she said. I think this is the point where she mentioned, “There is a whole big world out there some of our schools have not seen. Some teachers don’t even know what a smart board looks like.”
Senator Broadway said if anyone knew of someone suited for that committee to let him know. He also told ADE Director Ken James to be looking for people from the ADE department to put on that committee.
Update on Building Assessment in Progress Now
On the school building facilities assessment, DeJong, Program Manager, gave an update and described the procedure for collecting and entering data. Engineers will complete forms on the site but in order to save money, data entry will be done by six or eight people hired this summer. He said data would be entered on a form for site level, building level, and room level for each building there on the site. There would be as much as 100 pages on each building on the site. This will be coded information, DeJong said. He said that right now the pre assessment process is going on about all the rooms, etc. – baseline information. . Assessment teams go to the same site, and they validate the pre-assessment. A series of forms go to each site. All that gets in, and they go through as a team and look at it all collectively. They compile all those things, and they go into envelope which comes to the headquarters and all the data is checked to see if it has been done. This data goes into computer. Actual assessment firms have to review the forms and sign off on them.
My Question: How in the world can the legislators possibly oversee all this information? And who could understand the coded information, even if they wanted to and had the time, except the program manager and sub contractors, who have such a fine history of honest dealings (particularly Randall Fischer)? Superintendents used to oversee the construction of buildings They had reason to be concerned about all aspects of the building process and watched things carefully because it was their school’s money they were spending, and they had pride in their accomplishments. When it all belongs to the state, the pride and individualism will be gone. Is anyone ever as careful with other people’s property as their own. We all know the answer to that!
Debbie Pelley 870-935-9438 firstname.lastname@example.org