Teacher shares his renovation project insights

Dan Reem

As a teacher and a taxpayer in Washington, I have been doubly interested in observing and participating in the high school referendum process during the past 14 months.

I have been impressed with the open and honest debate and decision-making of the many community members who participated.

However, I was disappointed to see several inaccuracies in Mr. Armstrong’s recent “Vote No” letter, and I felt the need to provide more balanced information.

Mr. Armstrong builds a case that the proposed renovation to WCHS is poorly conceived and educationally unsound. 

He neglects to mention the proposal’s emphasis on bringing our science labs out of the 1960s and providing a classroom for every teacher. 

He cites spending on new windows and air conditioning as evidence of poor judgment. New windows will pay for themselves with energy savings, and air conditioning is significant if we expect to get the most out of our students in August, September and May when temperatures in our English, math and foreign language classrooms can soar to 90 degrees.

In both cases, the goal of the proposed spending is to increase the efficiency of our building and our students.

Mr. Armstrong cites “the lack of input from the true experts — the teachers.” This is not accurate.

Last fall, every teacher was asked to make an extensive list of issues that needed to be addressed in any renovation project, and these were posted throughout the school. 

On the first night of the Community Engagement Planning Process, everyone toured the school to read these recommendations and view the building. So actually, the foundation of the entire process rested on teacher input.

Mr. Armstrong states that he was a part of this process, so I cannot understand why he chose not to share this information in his letter.

Faculty and staff were also encouraged to attend the meetings with the community, to provide insight and information throughout the planning process. I was there for every meeting. So were many other staff. So were many other concerned community members whom Mr. Armstrong sees as “special interest groups.”

I see them as community members who care enough about the school to make time and effort to listen, learn, debate and resolve the issues surrounding this renovation project.

I will not urge you to vote “Yes” or “No” on April 7. 

However, I will urge you to vote informed. Don’t just listen to Mr. Armstrong. Don’t just listen to me. Talk to teachers. Talk to parents and students. Visit our school and see for yourself the cramped and substandard conditions, and then judge the merits of this project.

Dan Reem

Social studies/foreign

language department chair

Washington Community High School