, Gloucester, MA


July 29, 2013

Fishtown Local: The moving game pieces at Fuller School

Appearance or reality?

A Gloucester board plays in its own self-fulfilling fiefdom, moving game pieces around to suit its political machinations and ensure that its self-fulfilling promise comes true, amassing ever more game pieces in the ever-expanding school building jackpot, an ever-expanding target.

Appearance or reality? A 2012 Fuller school Reuse Presentation — commissioned by the city — endorses repurposing the Fuller School building over tearing it down because it was still so structurally sound.

Appearance or reality? Questions by critics and letters to the editor have been raised about deliberate choices within the last 20 months not to heat the building, not to remediate leaks and to otherwise refuse to provide basic building maintenance.

Our elected officials, these critics say, have taken a roughly $17 million city asset — according to the city’s assessor’s office and the Reuse Presenters — and deliberately let it slide into ruin.

Why? Appearance: to ensure the future $30 million single neighborhood school arises from the ashes of the West Parish School because it had also been let slide into disrepair?

Reality? Who the heck knows anymore. These shells are whipping around at typical shell game warp speed —now you see it, now you don’t.

Do the parents really get to decide whether the city goes into hyper-hock to re-outfit all its neighborhood schools one at a time? At perhaps $30 mil a pop? Sure, the state might eventually pay half but is that a reason to ring up an eventual $250 million to a declining elementary school population in five neighborhood schools? And who gets to make that call?

Seems a shame to get rid of what has always been seen as one of Gloucester’s best educational assets, Fuller, because of inattentive maintenance, either purposeful or through incompetence. And where were the voices of warning that the chickens of inadequate maintenance would come home to roost? Within the administration or the School Department?

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