An Open Clampinion to the New Leadership of the GDT

It seems new leadership has come to the Gloucester Daily Times, or as we like it call it here: “The Cape Ann Cane Shaker”. We’re hard on the Times here but only because it’s been terrible. Think we’re being too harsh? Take this little example:

Back in April there was really sweet coverage of Rockport High School inducting 19 new members into the National Honor Society. This is both great and swell. Huzzah to the Rockport students inducted, nice going, all that. Oh, and by the way: There were also 39 students of Gloucester High School inducted. Why am I not linking to this story? Can you guess why? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO FUCKING STORY. This is par for the course.

The Gloucester Daily Times has become, at best, an intermittent news source on topics, educational (where we have a particular passion) and otherwise. For most of the declared snow emergency this winter it bizarrely featured not much more than artisanal pizza recipes on the front page and we had to go to the awesome Korey Curcuru in his living room for actual information about the storms, the parking bans, the DPW’s movements and other information essential to surviving the unprecedented weather events.

Let that sink in: Our paper of record was scooped during a time of crisis on a daily basis by a dude with a webcam in his living room.

I could go on. And on. And on and on and on. The reporting is spotty at best. We regularly get requests here at The Clam to go in depth on actual news stories because folks don’t know what’s happening in regard to essential issues. I am loath to have to keep reminding this, but The Clam is a satire-based snarkblog and if you know the right passwords the Internet’s leading HR Puffenstuff erotic fiction hub. We are not Journalists. It shouldn’t be up to us, for instance, to be the only only outlet that has published the reports regarding the possible uses of the Fuller School.

an amphitheater for robot gladiators? Yes, fine. Whatever. Just shut up and do it already.

an amphitheater for robot gladiators? Yes, fine. Whatever. Just shut up and do it already.

All this having been said, we’re hoping for a better GDT. A fresh start, as it were. So here are The Clam’s top suggestions for an improved Gloucester Daily Times since the opportunity seems to have arisen. Understand that there are years of pent up frustration tapping the keyboard right now, so if it seems overly harsh we’re sorry. But holy crap, do we need to even go into the 1-800 number we were supposed to call to get updates on the Mayoral race a couple of years ago rather than use, oh I don’t know, some kind of instant electronic transfer of information that might be available to 90+% of MA. Households?

  1. Your website is a crime against humanity I’m sorry, but it is. It is the spammiest, most obnoxious, hard to navigate site I go to on a regular basis. It’s crowded, you can’t tell what’s ad and what’s content, it auto-opens a second page to offer me more adcrap (which no one does anymore) and there is all this auto-generated filler from who-knows-where that clutters up the page. I know it’s a nightmare to make money from news websites these days, but this is not the way.
  2. Stop it with the Fuller/#Benghazi bullshit This is a huge peeve. There’s a notable stream in the general conversation about Gloucester which boils down to: “nominally-informed yelling to no practical end.”  The paper should not be contributing to this problem and the issue of the Fuller School is our leading nexus of same. We’ve covered it here. It’s gone way, way beyond the necessary evaluation of the management of Gloucester’s capital assets. It’s now a conspiracy theory mixed with an ancient grudge whisked into a batter of dumb and poured into the waffle iron of asshattery, served dry. The majority of us just want to know what’s next for Fuller, how can we best use it to the city’s advantage and don’t want to spend our time shoveling coal into the rage boilers. If nothing else, please read the reports by professional architects and engineers before writing any editorials. That would be a huge step forward.
  3. Every third LTE/editorial seems to be about how terrible technology is Oh man. Nothing demonstrates a “hip” and “with it” vibe to younger readers than columns and ceaseless editorials about how the so-called “smart” phones are making us all into drooling antisocial screen-zombies. There are weekly columns that sound like someone made Andy Rooney a key character in Blade Runner: “These flying cars everywhere make it so hard to fly kites and I don’t care for all these noisy replicants running around with the shooting and the yelling of ‘What is my incep date? How long do I live?’ How long till you shut up is more like it. Back in my day we didn’t have bio- soldiers and we fought wars on the Off World colonies the old fashioned way, with attack ships off of Orion…” OK, in retrospect that sounds totally awesome. But it’s lame as balls in the Gloucester Daily Times, take my word for it. Make your regular columnists stop doing this, I beg you.Slide1
  4. Math matters The current GDT has a numeric allergy. There is, for instance, a regular call from the editorial page to consolidate the elementary schools into one mega school for ‘savings.’ How much savings? What kind of outcomes should we expect? Hellooooo? Anybody in there? We see this all the time. Someone saying the schools have too many administrators. Do we? What’s the typical ratio for school districts like ours, especially ones that have outcomes we want to emulate? How are they structured? Differently? The same? It’s hard work, requires looking things up on the Internet and making calls but that is sort of the job. Even political races, which are inherently mathematical, have had no reporting of hard numbers or percentages. Microsoft Word has a table function. It would be awesome if you guys would use it.
  5. Very few people actually fish I know this seems weird to say, but the vast majority of people in Gloucester and especially on Cape Ann, do not. The industry is clearly a core issue, it’s our historical basis for being here, but sadly there are only a few hundred families that still make their living from the sea. My brother has been working on shellfish draggers for most of his working years (He’s moving to New Bedford if anybody knows a boat that needs a competent crew member, btw) and I know the life, but still: Most of the people here do not fish.
  6. Gloucester education is about more than sports Oh man, if I had to drink every time I saw a front page that featured an educational achievement by Rockport of Manchester/Essex students and an athletic one by Gloucester students…wait. I actually do that. Saturday we had a demonstration of amazing robotics, drones, 3D printers, artwork, song, drama, music and all kinds of stuff. Here is the front page of the GDT:
    So much sports...

    So much sports…

    There was a GDT photographer there, but the story is for some reason buried in the “News” section and third over in the slideshow up above, but even there the reference photo is not awesome robots but a mom (an awesome mom, by the way Hi Laurel!) and no clear image of Gloucester students who designed, coded and built all this tech without the reader having to go dig for it. But plain as day is Rockport’s honor roll. Way to go Rockport! You guys are awesome! What do you have for 3D printers over there? You have one of ours you borrowed? Oh…cool. Guess that didn’t make the papers.

  7.  We don’t really care about what goes on in Danvers, Beverly, Salem, Newburyport or effing Haverhill This is the last point, but if this consolidation is supposed to combine content from Salem, Beverly and Gloucester, don’t bother. A few years ago we got tons of stories from the Merrimack Valley which is like telling the hill tribespeople of Papua new Guinea about the Winnipeg public bus system. Simply, no one gives a shit.

So that’s it. Remember what Menken said about newspapers, that they are to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Good luck!

School Consolidation Fetishism- Weirder than Furries

To have a realistic fantasy seem believable to readers an author needs to counterbalance their made-up world with as much reality as possible. J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series  therefore relies on an elaborate backstory including fully-formed invented languages, J.K. Rowling brings in details from contemporary Britain and typical teenage drama to make the magical Hogwarts familiar to anyone who’s been to middle school.

However, a lack of believable detail is why the “We should consolidate the Gloucester elementary schools into one big mega-school” fantasy has failed to really catch hold the public’s imagination. Its proponents have consistently failed to ever provide any clues as to how this idea would work, even in the rogue alternative universe where citizens actually want that.

And where this lady could be principal.

And where this lady could be principal.

To backfill for a second: There is the occasional call by the Gloucester Daily Times saying the neighborhood elementary schools should all be consolidated into one big school. They claim this will save money and improve educational outcomes.

Proposed design (zeppelin transport ships not shown)

Proposed design (zeppelin transport ships not shown)

But this claim is a lot like saying vampires sparkle or that Unicorn pee tastes like cotton candy. There is no evidence its’ true. Quite the contrary, in fact (read below). And none of the proponents ever provides credible numbers or a simple spreadsheet or any case studies to show how this would work or be beneficial.

Let’s Clamsplore, shall we?

First, to do this you would need a really big-ass building. Fuller School will never be the place, it’s now essentially condemned and even when it was possible to use as as school the process of converting it was deemed far too expensive by these experts here. They determined it would have cost twice per square foot what Manchester/Essex and Ipswich paid for their new schools. So that would be a bad idea, paying twice as much. Fuller is out then, so give it up. It’s done. Move on from Fuller, we beg you. There is not one credible evaluation that shows the existing Fuller building being rehabbed into a consolidated school at a price point that would seem reasonable even to your most peyote-addled numerologist. Yes, they may do something else with the building, but not a school unless you bulldoze it flat first at which point you start again from near zero, costwise (some savings on grounds and site prep. But still, not a lot.)

Screen shot 2014-05-07 at 1.04.55 PM

Who pays for this big-ass building? This is a key question because the Commonwealth covers half the cost of rehabbing our existing schools on their educational facilities list. They will NOT cover the cost of making a new consolidated school out of whole cloth. So Gloucester is going to bear the total cost of a new school to achieve this amazing consolidation cost benefit? What’s that going to run us, 60 million bucks? More? We have to pay for the whole thing? Is someone planning to pass an override for that? A bond issue? Hello? How is there a fiscal benefit here if we just lost a minimum of 30 million bucks having to build the thing?

And what do we save? There are five elementary schools. You can’t hire any fewer teachers because of the mandated student-to-teacher ratio. Same with aides, specialists and all that. You can reliably cut out four principals, a couple of custodians and maybe a few kitchen folks along with a few other support staff. There’s your big economy of scale. And what do you get for it?

  1. You have to pay full price for a new building rather than going halfsises with the Commonwealth.
  2. Kids of all ages from all over the district now have to be bussed (at great cost) to this imaginary central school. Kindergarteners will be spending 40 min on a bus each way.
  3. Crappier educational outcomes. Hey! Actual data from the National Education Policy Center tracking the outcomes of districts who had tried consolidation! What do you know? (they also note the “cost savings” are largely fictitious)

“…Moreover, contemporary research does not support claims about the widespread benefits of consolidation. The assumptions behind such claims are most often dangerous oversimplifications… Research also suggests that impoverished regions in particular often benefit from smaller schools and districts, and they can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs.”

Oh, wow. Weird. Actual experts in education at Ohio University tracked outcomes and found something completely opposite of what the education experts at the Gloucester Daily Times propose in their data-free editorial (paywall because sad). How strange. It’s almost as if those calling for consolidation in Gloucester did no research whatsoever and are simply making noises out of the wrong ends of their digestive tracts.

And what else do we, as a city, get in this amazing deal? Well, imagine you’re now a realtor trying to sell a house to a young couple in Magnolia, Lanesville or one of the neighborhoods off of Grapevine in East Gloucester. You have to tell them that their future five-year-olds will spend 80 minutes a day on a bus to to get to and from the consolidated elementary school. Sounds awesome huh?

just five more stops!

just three more stops lil’ Timmy!

 It seems like this particular plan would actually dramatically increase the number of families “choicing out” of the district. I thought we were trying to decrease that number. Can someone explain how this would help?

 But maybe someone has numbers somewhere that show what an awesome idea this would be? A case study? Some projections, a spreadsheet, a table graph or chart? I don’t know about you, Clampadres, but we here are getting pretty frigging sick of a bunch of half-baked “ideas” about how to run the town that come in completely fact-free packaging. Everyone talks about running the town more “like a business.” Sure, OK, I work in business. I deal with business innovations all the time.

Urinal elephant? We'll take two.

Urinal elephant? We’ll take two.

The first thing the CEO says when you have an idea is: “Show me the numbers.” So let’s see them. Or is this whole consolidation thing less of an “idea” and more of an “ongoing obsession” for a certain people who will continue to advocate for it with no substantive proof points. Obsessions not based in reality are also called “fetishes,” by the way.

This is numbers-based argument. Let’s see some.






3D printers at O’Maley Liveblog of Glory!


Everything you need is in the kit, including your own personal software engineer

Everything you need is in the kit, including your own personal software engineer

Allright, here we go people! I’ve got the kit, I’ve got a pile of sugar and I’ve got Marty. I await Stevens while I get my game on.

Progress: nill

Number of mistakes: 0

so far, so good

The pregame:

Salutations Clamunauts!

A special treat this weekend as you while away the hours of hurtling towards non-existence in this cruel universe of ours. I, your humble Clammisar, along with Clam Staff Photographer and “Guy who says he can get us free wifi” Stevens Brosnihan will be among those brave souls who have volunteered to “give up” our weekend in order to assemble two dozen 3D printers at O’Maley Innovation Middle School (motto: We don’t just call it that. Seriously, there’s a crap-ton of innovation going on here!).

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Yes you read that right, two dozen. 27 kits to make these babies were donated* by the Gloucester Education Foundation to create a 3D printing lab at the school. YOU SHOULD GIVE THEM ALL THE MONEYZ FOR BEING THIS AWESOME!!! Three are already up and running, it’s up to us volunteers to assemble the rest.

Also, the suggestion I would be “sacrificing” by having to “give up” a weekend to do this is laughable. The tenor of my weekends as a parent with active kids and community responsibilities is somewhere between the flight deck of an aircraft carrier during combat operations and that scene in Apollo 13 when they try and make an air filter out of duct tape, a glove and an adult diaper. Chilling for the weekend in one place with my favorite people working on a fabulously geeky project that benefits kids while cramming pastries into the big hole in the center of my face? I think I can handle this.

But can I? You be the judge dear readers. 3D printers are notoriously finicky beasts. Seth Stevenson at tried to get one to work and wound up making a bottle opener that looks like this:

An added dimension of Fail

An added dimension of Fail

So stay tuned as I try to turn a kit full of parts into a Star-Trek level tool of pure Geekgasmic W00t!.

“Point of order: First, Jim, tell us what the Hell is 3D printing and why should kids do this?”

I’m glad you asked that, mysterious bold italics. 3D printers, at least the ones we’re making here, are actually pretty useless. No, seriously. They are like home computers in 1981, they don’t really do much that’s useful from a day-to-day perspective.

Yah, sure, laugh. That kid probably spends weekends racing his mega-yachts now

Yah, sure, laugh. That kid probably spends weekends racing his mega-yachts now

But that’s not the point. What’s going on with this technology in general is nothing short of a fundamental shift in the way we design and make and consume things. Over the past 30 years we’ve digitized numbers and text then audio, video and eventually almost all meaningful communications. Every time we’ve done this there have been huge shifts in the way the world works as digital versions are replicable and easy to manipulate and share. 3D printing is part of the next effort in that long chain of digitization- the digitization of actual, material stuff.

With a 3D printer, to make something you either download an existing design or you create your own (kids will be creating their own). They will learn everything from using Computer Assisted Design (CAD) programs and actually producing objects.

Also, if the currency of the future is Yoda heads, we're stylin

Also, if the currency of the future is Yoda heads, we’re stylin

Just like with computers in the early 80s, learning this skill will have huge positive implications for our future, just like learning programming in the 80s had for a generation of programmers. 3D printers are also not the only technology that use the fundamental principles being taught, but it is the most accessible to students. And it opens the door to emerging technologies like nano-scale fabrication (MIT is building a 50 million dollar nanotech center on campus as we speak, and they don’t do that on a lark), atomically precise manufacturing which will change the world and even digital designs used in film and video games today.

You have 3D modeling to thank for this image

You have 3D modeling to thank for this image. And madness.

For us, what the technology we’re putting together over the weekend allows kids to do is learn these skills and see the outcomes of their designs that incorporate math, engineering, computer literacy and art with the result being a tangible object they can hold in their hands.

So, when I said above that they are useless, I was wrong. They are the ultimate education machines for these highly-relevant skills. It’s so amazing that we’re doing this. Right here in Gloucester, peeps!

Also with the right attachments you can print cupcakes! Stay tuned!

*The printers were actually donated with outside funds by raising money and stuff. For some reason we were recently told the awesome new Chromebooks the 8th graders all got were “donated” by the City, but that is obviously absurd. Providing funding for the schools to buy tools to teach kids in the 21st century is not “donating,” that’s what the city is just supposed to do. Do they “donate” gas for the snowplows? Do they “donate” hoses for the fire department? Oy.


We’re seeing a lot of these comparisons between what you had to do to get kids ready for school in the ’70s compared to what parents have to do today floating around ye ole Intertubes. Lest anyone get the idea that The Clam is written exclusively by with-it young hipsters, it behooves us to mention this particular Clameditor was alive during the ’70s. We actually attended elementary school in a few of the ’70s. Yeah, it was a simpler time, but so were the Dark Ages.

’70s and ’80s nostalgia always rubs us the wrong way. It’s always heavy-up on VW Beetles and flower decals, but forgets the much, much darker shit going down back then. I know the world seems crazy now, but trust me. Check out the Wikipeda page for any year in that decade and you’ll be faced with horror after horror. Here, for larfs just read the entry for 1972. Actually, just skip to May.

Way less this

The 70s were way less this

Way more this

and way more this

As is the Way of The Clam, we hereby offer our list of the top seven things from the ’70s we are NOT sending our kids off to school with.

1. Lead I’m sending my kids off to school with new notebooks, sneakers and pencils but greatly reduced blood lead levels from those we had in the ’70s. You wacky funsters today harsh on Fluoride and GMOs with a bunch of unsubstantiated arguments as to the long-term effects of each. When we were  kids, we stuck to the classics: Lead has been shown many, many times to cause permanent cognitive damage to kids and it’s been a known toxin for centuries. Yet it wasn’t banned in interior house paint until 1978 and was in everything from gasoline to solders to vinyl and water systems. Lord only knows how it’s going to affect us later in life.

2. Real social strife We’re as concerned here at The Clam about the militarization of police and the crazy-ass stuff going on in Ferguson as anybody. But when we were kids, this kind of shit happened all the time. Kent State, where National Guard troops opened fire on protesters with real bullets killing 4 and wounding 9 happened in the ’70s. 11 days later the police did the same thing at Jackson State killing two more. Here in Boston we had the busing riots. Just take a look at this bullshit going on less than 30 miles from here and try and convince us the ’70s were a better time:

Boston, the '70s

Boston, the ’70s

3. Carpet Bombing Another thing we won’t be packing alongside tree-nut free snacks and tahini sandwiches is the knowledge of our country straight-up indiscriminately bombing the crap out of a foreign land. Yes, the “drone war” gets a lot of attention for killing around 2,500 people in five years, many of them civilians. But the year we ourselves were scampering off to kindergarden in our Toughskins and Buster Browns, the US was dropping literally tons of bombs on the city of Hanoi, the capitol of North Vietnam. In the spate of less than two weeks we’d killed 1,600 civilians. The whole Vietnam War, which wrapped-up in 1975 killed about 4 million people. I know we’re still fighting wars all over the place, but it does seem like the overall body count is going down from the era of “peace and love” which is a good thing.

4. Terrible, Terrible Music Our favorite quote about pop culture of this era is “People of the Seventies thought they were living in a golden age of music. They weren’t. It turns out they were living in a golden age of film.” Yeah, there was some great stuff, but most of it was crap. And most of the great stuff; like the Ramones, the Clash, the Velvet Underground and the rest of the nacent punk movement came in direct response to the rotting possum carcass sausage that was being cranked out of the music industry. Tired of the Frozen soundtrack? How about “Billy Don’t be a Hero”? Or “Seasons in the Sun”? I could go on and on, but I’m happy to sing any Taylor Swift number driving the minivan over the horror that is this:

Update: We read this post to our wife and she kicked us in the nuts. “What about Led Zeppelin? Queen? KC and the Sunshine Band? Joni Mitchell? Marvin Gaye? Neil Young? Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, pre freaky-Michael Jackson 5?” Ok, ok there was great music. But Captain and Tennille unironcially dedicated to Henry Kissinger is what I’m saying and please stop kicking because pain.

5. Rote memorization One thing that singes our stones is people getting all bent out of shape around “all the technology the kids have to have nowadays…” You know why? BECAUSE WE ARE LIVING ON THE CUSP OF A TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY, THAT’S WHY. In fifth grade we memorized facts and learned simple equations. We took quizzes and tests. They might as well have taught us to sew the oilskin fabric coverings of zeppelins for all the good that will do you today. Within our kids’ lifetimes’ products will be produced by nanoscale replicators and it’s very likely computers will be able to mimic most of the functions of the human mind. So, what’s the complaint about them needing a multi-function calculator along with the colored pencils? Think about the change you’ve seen in just the past ten years and then multiply that by an order of magnitude, then you understand the world our schools are trying to get these kids ready for. We are Amish compared to what they’re going to be seeing.

6. Unsafe everything I know parents today get a lot of grief from older folks for making kids ride scooters in helmets and wear seatbelts and not breathe the secondhand smoke on an eight hour car trip to Maine, but I’m not sure why we hate so hard on reasonable safety precautions. The oft heard “we somehow survived” meme is a weird construct. It goes: “We didn’t have all that safety stuff these kids do today and we survived, right?” Um…anyone else see the problem with that statement? There is a logical fallacy big enough to swallow a Ford Country Squire.

The front seat and the rear compartment had different climates

The front seat and the rear compartment were so far apart they had separate climates

Who the fuck does that statement address, both the living AND the dead? Is this a seance? It’s like saying, “Anyone who lost both upper limbs in a wood-chipper accident please raise your hands. Okay, I don’t see any hands so wood-chippers must be safe!” Talk about your sampling error. Those invoking the “we survived” proof are only able to do so because they are THEMSELVES obviously survivors, correct? There is no way the kids of the 70’s who DIDN’T survive can be represented in this affirmation, right? People who say this: were your parents using the lead paint chips as a salad topping? For fuck’s sake.

Ok, so let’s try this again: “When we were kids we didn’t have all that safety stuff, but we survived, didn’t we? I mean all of us except, for instance, the additional 50% of kids who died as the result of injuries sustained in car crashes because no one wore seat belts and are now buried in the cold, cold ground.” There. That’s better.

Not banned till 1988

Not banned till 1988

7. Alienation I don’t know about other kids of the 70s and 80s, but a lot of us were just left. We were free to roam around and learned a ton about how to get tetanus from old razor wire and which barrels of creosote down at the old factory were best for dipping your head into on a dare, but I dunno… Along with the freedom, which was great, there was a distance, a gulf between the kids and the adults beyond just years and roles.

At holidays we had kids’ tables. We were expected to go downstairs and play ping pong or watch TV while the adults upstairs drank and smoked. There was our music and their music. Until Star Wars there were our movies and their movies. That’s not how it is today. My kids and I play with Legos together, we listen to music together, we read some of the same books, play the same videogames and watch some of the same films. I’m not another kid to them, I’m a real-live authority figure who will turn off the wireless network if the dishes are not done in a heartbeat, thank you very much. But at the same time I won’t feel when I send my kids off next week that these are small strangers who also happen to live in my house.

For those of you who missed it, and I’m glad you did, life in the ’70’s was lonely for a lot of people. Outsiders, victims of abuse, gay folks, anybody different, really, did not find that decade or even much of the next a comfortable place. The communal sensibility of the ’60s had given way to atomized individualism, where you could be “yourself” as long as that fit into a narrow set of descriptors. We still have glaring issues around acceptance, but society  and most importantly kids today are significantly more tolerant than the supposedly “anything goes” ’70s.  As a grateful resident of the 21st century, I’m hoping empathy is something my own kids will carry to school next week, along with the new ergonomically-designed backpacks Grandma sent.

The Fuller School. Oh God, do we really have to talk about this?


One of the many obsolete products of the ’70s

We are nowhere near drunk enough to talk about the Fuller School. Fuller is one of those things that is essentially a fractal of idiocy. It’s stupid, but then when you look at any given part that component is in and of itself equally stupid, and those stupids are made up of their own entirely dumbass components. All. The. Way. Down. Never before have I run into an issue where there were simple, fairly easy to comprehend reports about the impracticality of a particular course of action, created by certified professionals that were routinely ignored by everyone who chose to talk about it save a few key individuals. Oh lordy lord.

Screen shot 2014-05-07 at 1.04.55 PM

people who know what they are talking about wrote this

History: Fuller was built in 1965 by The Archdiocese as a parochial high school. Some additions were built in the ’70s. But here’s the thing- a lot of it was built in ways that are impossible or highly diffiucult to make compliant to modern building codes, especially for a building that houses children. Among the people who said so are Dore & Whittier Architects, who are certified and licensed and bonded and probably went to college and stuff for this.

Their report, which was as clear and easy to understand as it was unread, explained in stark terms what would be required to have Fuller even serve as a temporary school while building out the new West Parish, a little tune that goes: “14 million bucks”. Yeah, spit that morning mojito out. 14 million, just for a temporary school.That’s half the cost of a new one. Getting it to be able to be a fully functioning school again, rehabbing the whole thing would cost 67 million bucks, twice per square foot what building the new Manchester Essex and Ipswich schools cost each. When you actually read the reports and find out the facts it’s obvious that using that site as an educational institution just isn’t worth it. The maths don’t lie.

Wow. Interesting. So smart, certified professionals took a look, made a call and the School Committee acted accordingly. Fine, end of story, lets move on to some other topic…wait, what? What the what? Do we hear the unmistakeable low howl of a distant wind of dumbassery coming in off the harbor? Yes we do indeed. It’s a Dumbeaster, headed our way.

You see, almost no one read this report. And no one summarized it. And no one posted it in an easy-to-find place. It was like the report on building the new bypass over Arthur Dent’s house in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy- it was apparently in a locked filing cabinet in a disused basement washroom with a sign on the door reading ‘Beware of the Leopard’.  We had to request it from our ward councilor once word of it’s existence began to spread. I think we found out about it from spraying lemon juice on the back of a Leonardo Da Vinci, if we remember correctly.

The GDT, apparently having switched to a more toxic form of ink and not using proper fume protections, kept reporting that it would be simple to house students there than rent a space for something like $500 large. They kept saying that using our existing ‘asset’ of Fuller would make sense and that we would recoup the costs because we’d invested in a building we owned rather than leasing a space for the West Parish rebuild. This is fresh off the heels of their ongoing fantasy of closing the neighborhood schools and consolidating them at Fuller, saving mondo dollars.

How many mondo of these dollars? Did they ever produce a number or a spreadsheet or a scrawled gravy-stained napkin that projected these savings? Did they ever run an analysis? No, that would require the actual work of the journalism and we know that the GDT doesn’t really go for that anymore. These days its just about bloviating on topics but not actually doing any fact checking that one can just easily google, like we did.

We found that as far as consolidation goes, for all that work it would be far more expensive to move the kids to a single site, wouldn’t meet the educational goals of the city and you don’t save that much because the real cost is in the teachers and educational staff, not in the cost of the buildings themselves. It’s not a lot more expensive to run 5 schools than one big one. Seriously. Look it up. And as a temporary site, would we get the 14 million back? Probably not, because we’d have to get the site to educational code, and if we then decided to do something else with it, that would be a huge waste of money that we wouldn’t recoup. This is not hard to figure out. Also, we hired a consultant to do this. Just read the fucking report.

But despite this, local politicians and political aspirants seemed to be magnetically drawn to visit Fuller and ritualistically humiliate themselves there with their lack of knowledge. They’d look around and go, “Jeez, it looks fine in here, shucks and stuff,” and then claim that it was ‘negligent’ and ‘criminal’ that the building had been let go. People kept calling it an ‘asset’ and talked about how great the school was during the fucking Carter Administration. Is this how we do multi-million dollar asset evaluations? Were there any architects or engineers involved in these site visits? Am I really going to do these posts for free and not ask people to cover my alcohol bills? Oh man. Better just go to a metaphor here so I don’t try and gouge my own eyes out in despair.

Metaphor: it’s like this: Your neighbor is in some financial trouble. Maybe sort of he’s been accused of some not great things and his assets are being seized. It’s messy. So he has to get rid of this unused shed on this parcel that abuts your property and he just gives it to you. “Take the shed,” he says so you do. And you use the shed. But it’s not a well built shed. It won’t fit a car or a boat, it doesn’t meet modern building codes, and it’s going to cost more to fix than it’s worth so over time you sort of stop using it and let it go. You’re having your own financial troubles, particularly back in 2008 when the economy crashed. So you don’t replace the roof on the shed and try and keep your own house maintained instead. Your useful house, the one you and your 2,000 kids live in.

A few years later you’ve make it through the crash and you’re figuring out what to do next, do you listen to a lot of assholes going, “why didn’t you maintain that shed! The roof leaks now! That shed was hella awesome back in the 70’s, I used to get high in there listen to Jethro Tull on BCN with my cousins! YOU MONSTER!!!”? No, you do not listen to those assholes, you remind them that the construction of the shed precluded you from doing much with it. It became a liability and you treated it as such. You offer to show them the spreadsheet you…

“But the Tull, Mark Parenteau!”

Shut up, idiots.The best thing for Fuller today would be to bulldoze it and build something useful there. Maybe get the fire and police stations out of downtown into a modern facility. Maybe the Y. It’s a central location, a lot of land, that part is great. But as a school, it’s over.

Just like Tull.

Here are the reports. God have mercy on your soul:

Dore & Whittier reviews Fuller as a place to house W. Parish Students during construction of new school in the gripping Preliminary Evaluation of Alternatives

And the Fuller Site Reuse Study, also a page turner