Initially, the Dixon School Board meeting on June 29 was uplifting. Jim Wiltz received heartfelt recognition for his extraordinary work at DHS, and a plan for curriculum redevelopment in culinary, industrial arts, and ag was revealed.
Then, as business proceeded, I had the feeling of being confronted by fast, hard-selling tactics of a telemarketer, a door-to-door salesperson.
Astonishingly, pitches from four of five board members in attendance were made to spend a million of yours and my tax dollars on a land deal.
“It’s a bargain [$14,000 an acre]. … We had to jump on it,” said Jill Stoker.
Brad Sibley followed, “It’s better to buy this land and have options than be empty-handed down the road.”
Frankly, Sibley’s added comment that the “referendum said nothing about buying land” is offensive to voters. The vote was not only to maintain DHS but to ensure fiscal responsibility. The comment reflected Sibley’s attitude and those of three others: expediency, scheming, duplicity. The school board’s purpose is not land speculation.
“Collaborative effort” is what Scott Johnson used in selling the idea. Question: during your secret discussions of land purchase, were other governing entities in attendance? If you unilaterally develop this land, who do you expect as eager buyers once you don’t have a use for it? A giveaway as was Lincoln School?
Page Park, DHS, the Armory and the city have the area for incredible central improvement for recreation, park/school athletics, tourism, business. Land west, north, and across the river from DHS is right there. Johnson hit on it, and I add: needed – community-minded, talented visionaries to roll up their sleeves, dine often together, amass money (start with a million) and implement “collaborative effort.”
It will take time and leaving egos at the door, but it’s a surer way to progress sensibly and fiscally than a unilateral rush job in pure speculation.