Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Enterprise City vs Pre-K

It's old news by now, but a few weeks ago, word leaked to the Canyon Creek community that the Richardson ISD was thinking about doing something to Enterprise City — eliminating it, moving it, updating it — something. And you know how it works — any change is usually received by the community as bad news. The rumor mill said that as RISD expands its Pre-K offering, it's looking to use the space currently devoted to Enterprise City at Canyon Creek Elementary School. Pre-K vs Enterprise City. Letting the story be framed that way was an own goal by RISD.

To limit the fallout, RISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone met with the community, then published a letter saying the district will "review facilities and data in an attempt to identify an alternative that could allow us to realize Pre-K goals without impacting Enterprise City."

The most hopeful part of Dr Stone's letter is about "the possibility of a reimagined and modern Enterprise City program in the future." Enterprise City is in need of reimagination. Freezing Enterprise City in time and place does not serve our children's education. Allegedly (I haven't been in Enterprise City in twenty years), the kids are still taught how to use paper checks, as if Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, Paypal, etc, have never emerged. Teaching today's kids how their grandparents conducted business does not serve them well in today's world, to say nothing of tomorrow's world.

If RISD lets this argument devolve into a Pre-K vs Enterprise City fight (and, let's face it, it already has), it's a lose-lose situation for both programs and for the children in general. In hindsight, RISD should have recognized the need to revamp Enterprise City a year or two or ten ago and worked on a plan to do that. Foresight at that time might have seen the possibility of needing the CCE space for Pre-K, so moving Enterprise City back then could have been done as part of a revamping of the program and not gotten it bogged down in the need to make room for Pre-K at Canyon Creek Elementary.

Of course, hindsight is easy and foresight is hard, especially when you are up to your neck in alligators with daily fights. But isn't there a facilities committee, buffered from those daily fights, trying to anticipate future needs? Dr. Stone's letter makes no mention of it. Has Enterprise City (and REACH and other programs) not been part of its deliberations? Are current events moving too fast for the planning committees the RISD has in place? I don't know the answers, but the brouhaha this Pre-K vs Enterprise City triggered suggests a disappointing answer to those questions.

Unfortunately, Pre-K vs Enterprise City is small potatoes compared to the much bigger potential crises lying in wait for RISD. It's easy to see that some day an epidemic outbreak will lead to a lot of I-told-you-so hindsight. It could be today's coronavirus or it could be the next coronavirus, SARS, MERS, or influenza variant. But that it'll be something is easy to predict (unless maybe you're President Trump, who was shocked to learn how many people die of the flu each year: "I never heard those numbers. I would've been shocked. I would've said, 'Does anybody die from the flu? I didn't know people died from the flu.'").

It's also easy to predict that a deadly security breach will happen sooner or later. Next time, the guns will be used before they are found. I know RISD is doing what they can with the limited resources available. But I have no idea what the RISD thinks should be done if only more resources were available. Spelling that out and highlighting how big the budget shortfall is might help parents and voters in choosing state legislators who will make a serious effort to solve the school finance problem in Texas, instead of applying the band-aids they do every few years. Given the current collapse in oil prices and its expected impact on state revenues, we can anticipate that whatever band-aid was applied to school finance in the last legislative session will be at risk of being ripped off in the next session.

I've wandered far afield from Enterprise City, so I'm going to wrap up this rant. Let's just say, if we can't anticipate and resolve a minor challenge like Enterprise City before it pops up on Facebook storm radar, how ever do we hope to deal with major crises that are just waiting to strike us.


Bryan holland said...

You are spot on. We never prepare for the worst, or even a mild upset. We spend all we can. Those of us that have lived through a few of these recessions, (you have to be over 30 to have even earned a living in one)have learned to put our grain in the silos during the good times to be ready during the bad times.

and yes, here is your "I told you so". Spending 60MM Plus on the MAC's, with a 7 figure annual upkeep charge is beginning to look even stupider.

Whereas no one could predict the Chinese Virus, anyone can see there will always be something.

spend. spend. spend. Then shrug your shoulders when times get tough.

No board has done as much damage to RISD as the 2015 board that spent 1/2 a billion dollars, then virtually the entire head of the school district resigned (Super, CFO, AD). Now we enter the recession.

Bryan Holland, Class of 75, Non Anonymous but too stupid to find the "Edit my profile" button.

Mark Steger said...

Bryan Holland, thanks for feedback.
1. It's a corona virus, more specifically the COVID-19 virus. It knows no nationality.
2. Personally, I don't oppose spending. But it is prudent to keep some spending power in reserve for emergencies. We are not good at that, on the local, state, and right now, especially, the national level.
3. Click on that orange circle with the "B" in it. It'll take you to a page where you can edit your profile.
4. Stay home. Stay safe. Good luck to us all.