Friday, August 20, 2010

$1 Trillion and counting -- what didn't get funded?

From the former school’s website. "Burnham Village School houses four sessions of kindergarten. This small building offers a unique experience for students. It is a Kindergarten Center with all programs centered on the developmental needs of the five-year-old child."

The tally for combined price tags of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reached $1 trillion this year (if you can stand it, check the madly running counter here and note that we've added $38 billion to that figure already). It's such a large number, it's hard to relate to it.

Mark and I decided to come at it from a different direction by documenting some of the things that did not get funded while borrowing for more war spending raged on. We drove around photographing elementary schools closed for lack of funds at the end of the '09-10 school year.

On our travels we spent the night at some of Maine's state park campgrounds, where newish facilities to shower and wash dishes had signs thanking the state's voters for approving a bond issue that made the construction possible. This represents borrowed $ to be paid back by state taxes that increase rather than decrease quality of life.

We also drove over an astonishing number of re-paved roads, several of which boasted signs stating that the project represented federal recovery act $$ at work. People in Maine joke that we have only two seasons: winter, and construction. I imagine many of these road improvement projects were "shovel ready" and had been put off for lack of funds. There were so many of them, including Interstate 95, state highways, and just plain county roads, it was hard not to get the feeling that projects that stimulate demand for petroleum products (and even use a lot of petroleum in the asphalt) were a big priority for allocation of recovery funds.

Palmyra Consolidated School was closed this year for an estimated savings of $448,292. That's equal to the cost of about 10 minutes of the war in Afghanistan.

Mark in front of the former Monson (Maine) Elementary School, closed June 2010. Isaac Crabtree turned up as our park ranger that night. He lives across from the school, which is now a community center for the town of Monson. When asked his opinion he said, "I just think it's a shame for Kindergarteners to have to ride the bus for 45 minutes each way."

Our own local school district closed Embden Elementary, which had the best test scores in reading in math of all the schools in our district. Estimated savings: $200,000.
The community school that got us started on our photo essay project. It closed its doors in June. Some small family members of ours and grandchildren of our friends were heartbroken.


scarlethitomi said...

This website actually made me cry. Our nation needs more education, not less! This is such a tragedy and I am thankful to people like you who work to put the facts in the light. God bless you.

alisa said...

rage against the machine