Well, it went pretty much the way we expected. The folks pushing for construction of a new vocational-technical school showed up at our Magnolia Civic Center with a slick video and computer presentation.
The CREATE Foundation and an architect from a Chicago outfit called BrainSpaces were here to tout the Wellspring Center for Professional Futures, a $35 million project. Students from the eight school districts in Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties would be offered courses there. Toyota, when it announced the plant at Blue Springs, agreed to provide $5 million a year for 10 years to an education endowment fund. The CREATE Foundation was selected to manage it.
At the time, school districts thought they would get much needed help for such important programs as comprehensive early childhood education. Instead, unless common sense prevails, they will get a fancy tech school that has little community or educator support in the region.
The endowment income would be used to operate the center, but money for construction would have to come from federal or state taxes combined with private sources. Hopefully, that will not be forthcoming.
The school day already is crowded and busing students (or even worse, allowing them to drive) to the center would consume precious time our schools do not have. It also could hurt school programs, including band, athletics, and a more rigorous academic curriculum.
No needs or feasibility assessment has been done in our schools that would support this idea. In the absence of facts, we get Chicago consultants and a whispered undercurrent that “Toyota wants it so it’s going to happen.”
We need to build cars in Blue Springs, not architectural monuments.