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Can Closed Public Schools Become Makerspaces? (Video) 85

Posted by Roblimo
from the many-brains-make-light-work dept.
In August Phil Shapiro wrote an article that asked the question, Can 50 Closed Chicago Schools Become 50 Makerspaces? Now, in September, we have a ruminative interview with him about schools, makerspaces, and how making places where kids (and adults) can make things and generally tinker with tools and get used to the idea of working with their hands to create new things and to repair old ones. For many of us in previous generations, our "makerspace" was our garage or basement, and our mentor was Dad. Today, this doesn't seem to be the case in a lot of homes. Besides, working with others is safer than working alone, and even if we bowl alone there is no good social or biological reason for us to create alone -- especially if we have a congenial makerspace nearby.

Phil Shapiro: The makerspaces that I’ve visited have been so interesting to see the children there with their parents, just exploring stuff and building things together. It’s just electric being able to watch creativity before your eyes, knowing that that’s the purpose of the space. That it’s not something that happens to be just a fluke that you walk in the space and see some kids are building something – that’s the purpose of the space. So I’ve visited makerspaces in different states, up in Ithaca, New York, there was an interesting new one that started,IthacaGenerator, I’ve been over to Nova Labs in West Virginia, and I saw kids over there – it was just amazing. But I like it to be not just a once-in-a-while thing, I think we need to make the creative process part of our culture. And we don’t have it currently as part of our culture. If you want see what’s part of our culture, turn on the television - that is our culture.

Timothy Lord: Now I want to back up just a little bit, theoretically I think that public schools themselves should be beacons of creativity and learning. Why is it that these schools are closed in the first place?

Phil: Well, the schools closing was a simple financial decision that even if they wanted to, the school board wouldn’t be able to reverse themselves, it was just lower enrolment in the schools, and to keep the whole building open when only half of the classrooms are being used does not make financial sense. So it was a consolidation effort, it was very sad for the students who go to those schools - they will have to travel further to another school, and they probably have some emotional connection to the building.

Tim: Now, Phil, since kids really do have local schools all over the country, I know the schools that I’ve been to, many of them practically could be reconfigured as makerspaces by changing the name, there are kitchens, there are vo-tech classrooms, there are drafting rooms for some things. What do you see as the way to turn a school into a makerspace, what are the big changes we have to institute?

Phil: I would say the big changes are that the space needs to be open seven days a week. It needs to be also open from early morning, I would like to see makerspaces open at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. so that people who are in the creative zone can spend two hours doing creativity before their 9 to 5 jobs. And then they come home, and they might choose to go to that early rather than watching TV for two hours in the evening – so like a time shift.

Tim: Sort of like the midnight basketball idea.

Phil: And there shouldn’t be any reason why some makerspaces can’t be open 24 hours a day. We do it for Kinko’s and if Kinko’s can do it where there is a will, there is a way, there is a way to make that happen.

Tim: Yeah, I know a lot of makerspaces certainly run late night, because it does seem to align with at least certain people’s creative ideas - one of my favorites is open from noon until midnight every night. I don’t know of any other 24 hours yet, but I would like to see that. That’s still though you mentioned the schools are shutting down because of money, it does take money, but at the very least, keep the lights on and keep the power saws running, and maybe keep people there for some kind of security and instruction things like that. How do you propose that could work?

Phil: I am so glad you asked because there are different mechanisms of keeping a makerspace open. I think there ought to be some kind of membership fee. I don’t think it’s valuable to make it free to the public although there ought to be some scholarships available for people who totally can’t pay. I’d like to see every makerspace also have some entrepreneurial component so that businesses are started in makerspaces. In fact, large foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can challenge makerspaces to start businesses and have like a competition to see which makerspace can start businesses with the understanding that the business that’s started in a makerspace, one third of all proceeds from that business will come back to the makerspace, that the entrepreneurs themselves can use the space as a jumping off point, but the purpose of that business is to firm the makerspace.

Tim: So it sounds like you are talking about incubators, and not just places for making fun, and sort of tinker toy things, but really using makerspaces as a space for entrepreneurship in general.

Phil: I think that is the general idea. I mean what we have to visualize is the Wright Brothers in their bicycle shop – they loved to tinker but they were tinkering with a purpose, and their purpose was to build a flying machine. And so we need tinkering with a purpose where community members with different strengths help each other in whatever group projects are happening in the makerspace. And then at a certain point, the makerspace takes off, like a plane takes off, the makerspace itself becomes self-sustaining in the air.

Tim: Right now there are some of the things you mentioned just now about let’s say about business involvement and about foundations and about membership fees. These don’t sound like anything that happens right now with a typical public school building, so are you talking about is it in your mind, the idea, that is essentially transfer ownership and to change the nature of the physical plant and say this is now sold to a sort of a cooperative or.. how will it work?

Phil: Yes, I think we need to think of these spaces in wholly new ways - not as schools but as tinkering spaces, that the purpose of the building is a new purpose. Eventually, as people come to understand the makerspace ethic and process, some of that will filter back to schools, so that schools will say, “We want to be doing more of this in our regular school building” but if we have exclusive use of that tinkering in the makerspace, then that can only be a good thing.

Tim: It is easy to imagine, like you say, a part time use a well, you could say it is a school building that from 8 o’clock at night until 8 in the morning becomes a wholly different thing.

Phil: True. And that would require some logistics about keeping the property in the building safe. But it is all doable. It actually becomes like an architectural design question – can we have a shared space with for example, I once worked in a public school that it cost $10 million to renovate the school. They had a gorgeous school with an auditorium that was a just a beautiful auditorium. Now that auditorium got used for school purposes for as much as maybe ten hours a year. So there is a lot of time that auditorium wasn’t being used. But that auditorium didn’t have an exterior door – it didn’t have a door that somebody could enter the auditorium that was not coming, walking through the school.

Tim: So you couldn’t repurpose it that way?

Phil: Right. We need to have so that when the school is closed the auditorium is open, or it could be rented out. So we need to be thinking about things in new ways. Our competitors are taking our jobs away from us - if we don’t think quickly and act quickly to build the new culture of creativity, we can just expect greater and greater economic losses on our side, unless we start thinking boldly; we just can’t think in timid terms, and we can’t think in slow terms.

Tim: You are reminding me a lot of a book that I liked called ____8:06 in talking about the way the place in a public school could be repurposed. So are there any places that are models in your mind, are they makerspaces or even projects like this in other places that are doing this sort of repurposing and rethinking?

Phil: I haven’t seen models of this kind yet, but what I need people to consider is: Any tinkering they’ve done in their own basement or garage, and how much fun it is to do it with friends, that you can work on projects on your own, but when you have friends coming together and you are talking about the process and you are laughing and you are in that zone, that kind of thing can happen not just in one family – I bet you that there are some families that have never experienced that process. And that is a loss for our country. They have never experienced a process of making something that was exhilarating.

Tim: And that might be especially true in places where schools are shutting down.

Phil: That is true. That is very true. I think Maker Faires are where the excitement of a sharing process is most vividly viewable by the public. So I’ve been to a few Mini Maker Faires, I haven’t been to one of the big Faires yet, but you walk away, and there is a lot of excitement at these events. And it’s particularly a great thing that the youth, explaining what they have made, like “I’ve designed this game” and it doesn’t matter whether the game is an excellent game or not an excellent game, it matters that the youth designed it. That’s the exciting part. And that they want to explain what they’ve done and they want to explain where they’re going next. We don’t have enough show-and-tell. Show-and-tell has been taken out of the schools. It used to be a part of my elementary school actually until third grade, where my third grade teachers says, “We don’t have show-and-tell anymore” and I objected. And she was surprised I objected. We need show-and-tell to be part of the culture. And the makerspace is the show-and-tell space.

Tim: Yeah. So you’ve written specifically with this idea about 50 closed down schools in Chicago. You are in DC, why not DC? Is there anything that the school culture or the city culture around the country would make harder in some places than others?

Phil: I think that this kind of thing is suitable for every city. And in DC, they have been closing schools. Interestingly they asked, when they closed schools about five years ago in DC, they asked the public for ideas about the use of the school building, and I submitted some ideas which were similar to a makerspace idea. I never heard back from them. And I have no idea now what the building is being used for. It is a former building. The communication process was poor even to the point where the only people they wanted to hear ideas for the use of the building was you to have to be an official nonprofit and you have to submit your proposal in ten typed double-spaced pages. And I’m not a nonprofit, and I submitted my proposal as a YouTube video where I had a screencast. They could’ve chosen to ignore what I submitted but I did my duty as a resident of the city. I said, “These are the things I think would make the best use of that space.” The either didn’t have time to listen to that or they don’t.

Tim: It sounds like a pretty conservative process though.

Phil: Yes, I think we are not doing enough listening to each other. And listening brings you to wisdom.

Tim: Tell me, are you involved with DC makerspaces?

Phil: I am. I‘ve had some involvement, I have a little less involvement currently. I was a little disappointed that the one makerspace I was involved with did not seem gender inclusive. I brought that up with the founders. The good news is I’ve heard things have changed there. So that’s good.

Tim: I think a lot of people who view this video are going to find this an intriguing idea. If people are interested in bringing more of a maker shaper hacker culture into their local public school system, or as you are talking about, even wholly supplanting parts of it, with this sort of cultural shift – what should they do? How do you suggest people go about making that a real possibility in the world?

Phil: Tim, you’ve asked a real interesting question because the role of change agent is not clear. And sometimes you can just hit your head against a wall if you can’t make an appointment with the school principal. The school principal is thinking of lots of other things than makerspaces. They got many other fish to fry. So sometimes we introduce change by the blogging – the blogging I did for Make magazine. Make is very very supportive of anybody sending them a blog suggestion. The new editor-in-chief there would love to hear from anybody I bet, including you, who have some ideas they want to share. So I would say be careful how you spend your time as a change agent, because you can go up against hurdles if you want to change existing systems, you could do that for five hundred years and not achieve much gain. That’s why I actually see some hope with something like Chicago where we build something entirely new - I think that’s where the most hope lies.

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Can Closed Public Schools Become Makerspaces? (Video)

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  • by sunking2 (521698)
    But they do make good crack houses and meth labs.
    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      Well, to be fair...in Chicago ( and likely in Detroit too), if the said Maker Spaces were used to make zip guns and the like, they might be useful for survival of those unlucky enough to be stuck there.

      :(

    • Housing and laboratories! What an amazing way to address inner-city poverty and STEM education.

    • It would be insane of Chicago to let these buildings be used for Makerspaces. People might actually learn something there, even school age children, That must never happen in Chicago schools. Far better to serve the community as crack dens.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @04:38PM (#44750547) Homepage

    1. Can they? Of course.
    2. Should they or will they? Maybe.

    More to the point, has anyone actually demonstrated that "makerspaces" are an improvement over a standard school shop class or (for particularly motivated students) a public vocational school?

    • Well, makerspaces don't charge tuition, and don't cost the city nearly as much to keep open. There's certainly a lot of concrete value in formal training, but informal training can create more abstract value.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Makerspaces don't charge tuition? Most charge membership fees for their members, and they often charge something for classes. And it costs something to keep the lights and heat on, who will pay for that?

        Chicago does have a free "maker" lab at its main public library, and they are creating more. Those are free/nominal fee to use.

        • by Rob Riggs (6418)

          Chicago does have a free "maker" lab at its main public library, and they are creating more. Those are free/nominal fee to use.

          As a Chicago tax-payer, if the CPL maker space continues beyond it's $250K start-up grant, it will not be free to me. I should also add that I am a member of a Chicago maker space. Someone always pays; whether donors or taxpayers or members.

          I'm all for putting maker spaces in high schools. We called them "shop class" when I went to school. (BTW, get off my lawn!)

          I am not yet convinced a maker space belongs in a library.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Who does pay for it though? No one should be wasted tax money to support this experiment. If you do want tax money, you'll get much farther by calling in "shop class" or "vocational training" instead of "makerspace" which is a hipster slang word that no one controlling tax dollars will understand. Otherwise it just sounds like a place for people to hang out.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Exactly, other than Shop classes have a curriculum, and are expected to follow it, but makerspaces would have none, and whim could be followed.

      The problem is insurance, and staffing, and plant maintenance.
      No one is going to allow the use of a building owned by the city UNLESS all of those issues being addressed in dollars.
      Just not going to happen.

      It would be easier, and more productive to just adjust or expand the curriculum to include self-directed projects class, for which there is already broad support

      • by WillAdams (45638)

        My high school shop was always open for personal projects befoee and after school, and one could go in during study halls or lunch so long as one didn't interfere w/ the current class.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Better questions:

      1) does Chicago REALLY have demand for FIFTY "makerspaces"?
      2) can we please cunt-punt the person who coined the term "makerspace"? It sounds so obnoxiously self-satisfied it makes me see red. Call it what it is: a "public" or "community" workshop / tool shop.

      We don't call community gardens "growerspaces" and "weederspaces" and you don't call public parks "walkerspaces" and "loungerspaces", and you don't call bedrooms "sleeperspaces" and "fuckerspaces." WHY? Because all of those terms

      • Same reason nobody takes GNU... seriously

        Yep the userland running on possibly the majority of internet servers and the majority of supercomputers, not to mention numerous workstations and laptops around the planet. And the compiler used for a vast number of embedded devices.

        Nope. No one takes one of the world's most dominant operating systems and toolchains seriously.

        instead of clear and pronounceable names that will help people understand what it is.

        So: GNU Image Maniuplation Program versus (from a varie

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Shop classes aren't tested for with No Child Left Behind, so of course funding for them got cut.

      Afterall, in the future everyone knows that no one will work with their hands, instead we'll all be computerized with tablets (apple only or else not approved by the schools). Only immigrants will need to know the skills for actually doing things other than updating facebook status.

  • the answer is no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @04:39PM (#44750549)

    they didn't close the schools so that socialist anti-consumer degenerates could use them, they closed them so they could sell the land off cheap to developer mates.

    • Yep, if there's one place property values are sure to soar, it's areas where the schools are crappy and underfunded. Chicago is suffering from the same suburban sprawl that chokes the tax money off of many U.S. cities.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        Yep, if there's one place property values are sure to soar, it's areas where the schools are crappy and underfunded. Chicago is suffering from the same suburban sprawl that chokes the tax money off of many U.S. cities.

        Well, to be fair, the environment for cities like Chicago, with the corruption, bad school system and other factors, led those people with the means to wisely leave the city, lest their kids get caught up in gang, drugs, or just plain get killed as an innocent bystander....while also getting

        • No, but I do blame the perverse incentives that create suburbs that will decay into a similar state of social disorder across a few decades, while generating other social costs along the way.

          • by icebike (68054)

            No, but I do blame the perverse incentives that create suburbs that will decay into a similar state of social disorder across a few decades, while generating other social costs along the way.

            Yes, because that can be foreseen so easily....

            People do what they want.

            And generally they don't want to live in dense highrise housing complexes planned by urban planners such as your self. These places become crime ridden and run-down in short order. So people move out. They buy a house that they can manage themselves, rather than begging the building supervisor to fix the plumbing.

            So you get suburbs. The alternative is a concrete ghetto. How many times does society have to relearn that lesson before

            • by guruevi (827432)

              I live in a city where suburban sprawl happened a long time ago (maybe like 2 decades). The city and local companies are still giving incentives for families live in the suburbs (they would give a free grant for ~10% of the purchase price).

              The result: all the suburbs have now become ghetto's and are getting worse, the police simply doesn't even patrol entire swaths of the suburbs because they are too large and out of fear for gang fights. The center of the city has gotten a lot more cleaned up and/or empty,

          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            No, but I do blame the perverse incentives that create suburbs that will decay into a similar state of social disorder across a few decades, while generating other social costs along the way.

            What perverse incentives are you talking about?

            I know there are quality of life issues, often more price friendly housing (especially at first), and it is nice to have a yard to enjoy, and not have to share a wall with neighbors, have pets enjoy a fenced in back yard, etc.

            What's perverse about that?

          • Cities happened because that's where people congregated to make stuff, essentially. That is no longer the case or even necessary and people now want the open space our species grew up in. The only thing perverse about a city is that it *is* a hive and people don't like living in hives.

            Oh, and the people that want to force others to live in hives.
        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Well, every urban core has people fleeing it, not just chicago. Rich people don't live there, so there's no incentive to spend tax dollars there to keep it looking nice. Most of the time when you do spend money fixing up the urban core the poor people will complain about gentrification (which to be fair, is a valid concern because of all the hipsters who want to live downtown which raises the prices).

    • by ogdenk (712300)

      Or they do what they did down the street and turn it into a mercenary training camp instead:

      http://threatmanagementgroup.com/TMG/facilities-2/utc-urban-training-center-2/ [threatmana...tgroup.com]

      That used to be the Bowman High School in Bowman, SC. Still has the Bowman High School lettering on the building.

  • ...as long as you don't roll on Shabbos.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @04:40PM (#44750573) Homepage Journal

    Not just Betteridge's law of headlines, but the idea of a place where any person can come and do whatever they want is anathema to the perception Americans have to a "public good". There's a quite unspoken undertone to a lot debate in the U.S. that reflects the perspective that things are either done in private or by employees for money. Public gathering places are few and far between, and not just because of fiscal concerns.

    Now, with a spirited group of concerned citizens you can achieve a lot, as many charities demonstrate, but that represents support for maybe a couple such building renovations, not 50 school's worth.

    • It's not as bad as a reductive CNC machine. But mis-programming a maker can trash it. You simply can't let everyone come and do whatever they want.

      At very least you need one competent person and a virtual machine to do test runs.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Really?

        The makers I know locally have nothing to do with virtual machines or computers. They make physical devices, some simple, some complex, many without a electrical part in the whole assembly. Your focus is too narrow.

        • by firex726 (1188453)

          OP was referring more to the idea of a bunch of random ass people coming together and doing a project with little no training or expertise beforehand.

          Glue some foam together? eh, no big deal, one armed blind guy could do it.
          Worst case? Get to spend time time washing off your hands.

          Woodworking? Get atleast a hobbyist in there who has spent some time building stuff and knows how to properly hold the tool.
          Worst case? Cut off a part of your body. Damage still limited to yourself.

          3D printing/Metalwork? OK now yo

        • Do a Google image search on 'Lathe accident'.

          Now imagine the cost to insure a metal working lathe if you let anybody off the street use it for random projects, with no training requirements or supervision. Perhaps even drunk people...

          Granting a 3d plastic extrusion printer is a few orders of magnitude safer. You can still crash the head into already printed space. I'm betting there are few blobs of plastic that used to be print heads out there now. How could you make one fatal? Contaminate the stock wi

  • In light of Chicago's more pressing problems, a proposal like this sounds a bit too optimistic.

    • If it's just allowing use of existing buildings, I don't think it's a bad idea. Under the following logic:

      if cost(thing)cost(debate(thing)):
              Just do it
      else:
              Debate it

      Now if they want city funds, that's a different matter.

      • by Chas (5144)

        It isn't.

        If those buildings are occupied, utilities have to be running (Power, water, heat/AC,etc).
        That means firing up the physical plant on-premises.
        Running that physical plant requires staff.
        This being Chicago (A Good Union Town...), and for liability reasons, they're NOT going to turn over physical plant and grounds to A. Random Tenant.
        That means union labor.
        The utilities, salaries, insurance, etc all cost real money. And probably a LOT more than any makerspace tenant is going to be able to pay.
        That me

  • by themushroom (197365) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @04:45PM (#44750635) Homepage

    Seems to me there's something wrong if you have 50 empty school buildings but the same number of available teachers and students (or more) than before you closed them. They do make great workspaces but, hey, even better schools in many cases... unless the school is so run down that it's more suited to being a practice space for local bands.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Seems to me there's something wrong if you have 50 empty school buildings but the same number of available teachers and students (or more) than before you closed them. They do make great workspaces but, hey, even better schools in many cases... unless the school is so run down that it's more suited to being a practice space for local bands.

      Don't worry. The murder rate in Chicago and all the teachers they fired balanced things out quite well.

    • by mcl630 (1839996)

      The population of Chicago has been declining for decades, meaning fewer students to fill the schools. That, combined with "No Child Left Behind"'s (unfunded) mandate to fix or close failing schools, combined with falling property values (meaning less property taxes to fund the school district) has led to the massive closures. Those buildings really aren't needed as schools, they have plenty of space for the smaller student population in the remaining schools.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Nowhere near the same number of students in the system. Same as in Detroit, Baltimore, etc. It's absurd to have the same number of physical buildings and mid to upper level managers for 50,000 students as for 100,000 students.

    • by tlambert (566799)

      Seems to me there's something wrong if you have 50 empty school buildings but the same number of available teachers and students (or more) than before you closed them. They do make great workspaces but, hey, even better schools in many cases... unless the school is so run down that it's more suited to being a practice space for local bands.

      They have the same number of teachers, but not all of them are good teachers. The union walked off the job last year in protest of standardized testing, and rating teachers on their ability to actually teach children so that they can pass the tests; these are things that hurt bad teachers, and not so much good teachers,

      Now obviously, part of the problem is mainstreaming children who are ineducable, either through no fault of their own, or because they could care less about learning; such children should go

  • I think the liability aspect of it being a public facility would prohibit it's use as a makerspace.
  • Ugh, awful word (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    'Makerspace' sounds like something that's been hijacked by corporate interests or sociology majors - not people who actually like building stuff.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Reminds me of the word "makeoutplace"
  • One of the reason they closed the schools and consolidated was lack of funding. What makes anyone think that the city will want to pay to keep the building open?
    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Many such spaces are privately funded and lease the building.
      They attract dues paying members via available services and classes.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can Detroit become Makerspace?

    It used to be.

  • by astro (20275) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @05:05PM (#44750847) Homepage

    There is an awesome, long running "Makerspace" in Portland, Oregon, that was formerly a public vocational school. http://watershedpdx.com/ - but it takes individual and collective will and effort for such a thing to happen. They shouldn't just be handed out by the state.

  • How 'bout "no"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @05:07PM (#44750861)

    >> Can 50 Closed Chicago Schools Become 50 Makerspaces?

    Here's a list of the schools closed and their capacities:
    http://graphics.chicagotribune.com/school_utilization/ [chicagotribune.com]

    These aren't small buildings. Most are elementary schools. Many are in neighborhoods where you'd want tools and other equipment with "street value" locked up behind more than the average school door.

    A better idea would be find "maker" space in light industrial parks. I'll bet there's plenty of that kind of unused space in those neighborhoods too.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Yes, this is a good idea. There are many unused buildings in industrial parks because of the recession. Even when the recession is receding there's a bizarre trend to build new buildings instead of reoccupying old buildings (this may be a silicon valley thing, where a new building means more prestige).

      • by Splab (574204)

        It's more likely a new building is cheaper than trying to bring an old building up to code.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Not being small buildings, that's a feature. Don't just make them into maker spaces. These are large lots, they have room for parking. Make them into maker spaces and shops. Make stuff in the maker space, take it next door and sell it. If you've got multiple floors to work with, maybe even put residences on-site. Improve the physical security. Turn sports fields into farmlands.

      A better idea would be find "maker" space in light industrial parks. I'll bet there's plenty of that kind of unused space in those neighborhoods too.

      Light industrial parks have all the same problems as these schools, plus they're often polluted with toxics (especially in places wh

  • That's entirely too good an idea to have any possibility of success.

    Two issues I can think of: (1) Funding (if they can't fund schools, how are they going to fund this?) and (2) liability, (who's at fault when little Tommy saws his fingers off) which in a way I guess also comes down to funding.

    I think part of the funding might come from (dons steel helmet) um, corporations. For instance, a makerspace in Michigan might be funded and supplied by Ford. In Chicago, who would participate? I suspect there is

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @05:09PM (#44750885)

    There's no way they'll allow these unlawful felons to set up firearms factories in schools.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Bah, wouldn't happen anyway - remember, they have strong gun control laws and schools are gun free zones! Who could think of violating those laws?

  • Why did that need background music?
  • after a large enough donation to the Mayor's campaign fund.

  • by Jjeff1 (636051) on Tuesday September 03, 2013 @05:20PM (#44750951)
    Old schools are generally closed for a reason. Declining attendance comes hand in hand with reduced tax roll, which means less money for maintenance. Even a relatively new school building needs a lot of maintenance. But usually, they're closing OLD schools that require roofs and countless other maintenance items. Asbestos, giant boilers that don't pass safety inspections, etc... I've done work in a school that still has a significant amount of coal sitting in the basement.
    Remember these buildings aren't just a big version of your house. You might wire up a new outlet in your house, but you probably don't have the tools or know-how to core 2 foot thick concrete walls or work with 440 volt feeder lines, pneumatically actuated steam radiators or commercial fire alarm systems.
  • The floor space cost is just a pittance of what it takes to get a "makerspace" up and running.

    Show me the project spreadsheet. You can easily go beyond $1 million in equipment without even trying.

  • Cleaning, adminstration, maintenance, safety. The older schools, which were probably the ones closed, were not deigned for modular(partial) use.

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