My desk is far from clear after returning from a week off, but here are a few things that may interest only me:
My family and I headed for Santa Cruz and Monterey during spring break for Lincoln Unified School District.
Things have turned 180 degrees from a year ago.
At this time last year we were preparing my youngest daughter, Mia, now 12, for small intestine resection surgery, a procedure necessitated by Crohn’s disease.
It required a weeklong hospital stay and a few days of recovery at home.
It made sense to do this when school was not in session, so as to minimize absences. But try explaining that to an 11-year-old who was “looking forward to my time off.”
The surgery went well, and she has been free of Crohn’s-related symptoms since.
It also was nearly a year ago that I received an unexpected promotion when my boss, and friend, Mike Klocke announced he was leaving The Record to become community relations director at University of the Pacific.
As my life at home settled down a bit, my work life ramped up because of my new role and staffing changes.
The times we spend at the top of the mountain certainly are the most fun. That’s when the sun is bright and sky is blue.
But it’s those times in the valley, when the sun is hidden behind the clouds and the sky is gray, that are most instructive. It is during those times that we learn and grow. And we learn to appreciate the days at the top that much more.
Sometimes you have to look in a gift horse's mouth
I went offline as much as I could while I was away, but one thing that caught my attention was something happening in the Abington School District in Pennsylvania. My two brothers, two sisters and I are graduates of Abington High School.
Stephen Schwarzman, a 1965 Abington graduate and co-founder, chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group, a private-equity firm, had agreed to donate $25 million to the district. The money would be used to help fund renovations and build a science and technology center.
The announcement was made Feb. 14, Schwarzman’s 71st birthday.
It was the largest known gift to an individual public school, according to the Wall Street Journal. Schwarzman said he hoped he would inspire others with wealth to address public-school funding gaps.
The school board approved the pledge agreement on March 27, without disclosing some of the details.
And then a few “small” details were announced.
From The Washington Post:
The school would receive a new name — Abington Schwarzman High School — and, “for the avoidance of doubt,” officials would make sure the name was displayed, “at a minimum,” at the front and above each of the six entrances.
Parts of the campus would be named after his brothers, former high school track coach and two friends on the track team.
Schwarzman’s portrait would appear “prominently” in the school.
Schwarzman would have input into the construction of the new campus, which is set to be done in 2022, including the right to approve contractors.
He would receive regular reports on the progress of a computer literacy initiative.
No public input was taken on the change. And many know what happens when elected officials try to change public institutions without taking public input (see Swenson Park Golf Course).
The reaction was akin to locking someone in a closet with a nest full of agitated hornets.
Parents, students, taxpayers and alumni were angry.
Protests sprang on social media, including Facebook and change.org.
The story went national.
And at first, the board and its superintendent attempted to hold fast. But the groundswell was too large and the board relented.
The school’s name will not change. A science and technology center will be named after Schwarzman instead. Other stipulations were dropped as well.
A revised agreement will be voted on April 24.
Bottom line: Private gifts to public institutions are good but only when done in the light. Some deals made in the dark often stink.
Contact Editor Donald W. Blount at (209) 546-8251 or email@example.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/editorblog and on Twitter @donblount.