Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Questioning "sadly mistaken" re: science labs

Elmbrook, Elmbrook 2008 Referendum, Elmbrook: nonresident students, High Schools

Please note, for some reason this reposted itself to March 25th. It should be dated and placed March 24th.

This makes the 3rd posting in my series on Questioning "sadly mistaken when it comes to the facts..." This time we are discussing the science labs, "Science labs will be expanded and made safe for today's academics."

The Vote Yes ad in March 20th BrookfieldNOW follows much the same train of thought. (The same person who made the comment is the treasurer for the Vote Yes group and member of HSST.)

Photos are from Central High School's chemistry room from this year's tour.

I believe the chemistry rooms are currently set up for 24 students using the lab stations, at least that is what I wrote down last year in my tour notes from East.

Principal LaBonte said they had 28 student lab stations at Central this year. Should the referendum pass, they would be adding 2 more.

Regardless of the actual number, the administration thinks adding 2 is necessary. 

When I figured out how many students were in the average class in my last school post, I came up with 25. Out of that 25 student number, at Central, 1.5 were non-resident. At East, 2 out of 25 were non-resident.

Can you see why limiting our non-resident students becomes very important?

I can appreciate that certain improvements could be made to the science rooms. I just don't think we need a referendum to do it.

Photo 2 shows the chemical closet and emergency shower (yellow object on wall between doors).

Last year, after the referendum failed, I had requested a cost estimate for improving the chemistry rooms twice. Here is one of my email questions: "After the referendum, I had requested price information on how much replacing the chemistry labs would be. This would include new cabinets and counter tops, plumbing, gas supply, chemical storage lockers,  proper ventilation exhaust fans in the ceiling as well as vent hoods for chemical mixing.  I have not heard back from you."

My point being, how do you know you cannot afford to improvewhat you have, if you don't know how much the improvements would be? I have not received an answer. I think mainly because they really do not know.

If you look at  Facilities Fact Sheet 20: Science Classrooms Limit Instruction it states that there are a number of problems in the chem. labs: A lack of science-specific ventilation, lack of chemical storage so teachers would not need to transport chemicals via carts down the halls during busy class break times, corroded faucets, etc., and as mentioned on tour, cabinetry and drawers that do not work.

I think any one of these could be addressed without too much trouble. Ventilation? There was a new (2 years old) vent hood at Central for mixing chemicals (3rd picture).

These science rooms are on the top floor, so a ceiling vent exhaust fan could be installed to improve room air quality without too much difficulty.

Lack of chemical storage at East? Yes, that is a problem. But couldn't the teacher transport the needed items for the day to class and keep in a locked cabinet before school started? This would eliminate the cart transportation during class change times.

Corroded faucets and metal surfaces from caustic chemicals? Ever hear of replacing a faucet or surface as needed? We have done ours at our house. Haven't you? 

Actually, chemistry has become rather tame these days because there is so much concern about volatile chemicals and safety. My college student laments they don't use the fun stuff anymore at school in electronics and physics: its too dangerous.

Cabinetry that has doors and drawers that don't work? Well, if the maintenance staff was directed to stop responding to repair orders over 5 years ago in anticipation of the referendum, I guess that is a problem now. But they could have been repaired before they became such a problem. One solution now would be to install a new lab station or two and use the removed one for parts to repair the remainders?

Another issue raised in that fact sheet were AP classes. AP classes are often very small, yet command a classroom for an entire school period. If AP classes are driving the space issue, perhaps we should consider running them at a different time of day? Maybe extend the school day for AP so they can use labs longer? Maybe combine them at one school? Most students have their own cars (very few upper class men use the school bus system). It is a whole other topic that needs looking into. 

Please note that there is a LCD projector in the classroom in the 3rd photo. 

Next, I'll be working on the BIG issue for this referendum, and that of course is the amount of money being spent on sports. (Think 1.4 acres of new gym related facilities at east.) Stay tuned!


Guest posting: Referendum: a blank check to build or add athletic facilities? 


Elmbrook School District Referendum Links:

HSST Meeting Minutes 

Cost Breakdowns of Type of Work (cost per square footage)

Wording of the April 1, 2008 $62.190.000 referendum 

Architect's Conceptual High School Floorplans--East and Central

Facility "Needs" comparison of failed 2007 and present 2008 referendums

Key Academic Benefits: click on that subject heading.

Tour Schedule  

Tax Calculator  

Frequently Asked Questions

Elmbrook asks for smaller expansion--JSOnline (Also includes links to past articles)

Still no link to the 2008 Election Edition of the Link. Hope you got your copy.
counter hit xanga

Former 2007 Referendum Facilities Facts Sheets (Still a good read)


The countdown continues: Just 8 days until MILLIONS OF DOLLARS Tuesday!

Email me your thoughts on the $62.2 million dollar referendum.

Links: Brookfield7, Betterbrookfield Vicki Mckenna 



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