My Schenley question
Asbestos is asbestos whether the school building is used or not. Even if the decision is to raze the building, the cost to remediate the asbestos is still there. You don't just tear down a building laced with asbestos. You would have have to pay to go in and clear out the asbestos. I even wonder if the cost to remove all the asbestos pending demolition or reuse is higher than the cost just to repair in place the existing asbestos problem. We don't know because all that is talked about is the cost of dealing with the cost to fix the asbestos. But there should be no overlooking the fact that the cost of dealing with the asbestos is already accrued. The school district already owns that liability whether it wants to admit it or not and it is a liability that will have to be paid off someday. It is only a question of when that cost gets dealt with. A decision to close the high school is only deferring that cost.
So I understand the school district has a cash issue that is what may be forcing their hand with regards to what to do with Schenley in the immediate future. I understand that, but this gets to the real social accounting of this type of decision. Call it accrual policy vs. cash policy, but nonetheless its the way we collectively should be looking at most issues like this. Trying to deal with the immediate cash crises is as best short term politics. The bottom line is that the decision of what will eventually happen to the building is fundamental to the decision over whether it makes sense to close the building, but nobody is talking about that at all and nobody is talking about what it means to have such a large abandoned building right at the intersection of North Oakland and the Upper Hill. There is a real cost to that as well that is not being factored into any of this.
Put simply, the question that has to be asked and answered as part of this debate is what is the plan for the building if it is indeed must close.
Honestly, I am open to the idea that the school may need to be closed, but all that a hear thus far is a narrow discussion of how the school district can balance its near term budgets. I don't blame the school board or even the superintendent for that actually. It is a situation we all put them in by leaving school financing as narrowly based as it is in Pennsylvania. But in the end that does not justify ignoring the fundamental questions that need to be asked.