Friday, February 29, 2008

Sewers for Scholarships discussion provides additional details on project

I wrote down about 12 questions in preparation for today's interview with Mayor Plusquellic for NewsNight Akron (9 p.m. tonight on PBS45/49) but I only got to ask about four. I shouldn't have been surprised. The Mayor typically covers a lot of ground in a short period of time and he covered pretty much everything in my question list without me even asking.

I did get to ask a few questions that some of you emailed to me so thanks to those of you who sent them in.

The topic: "Sewers for Scholarships" .. or whatever humorous name you've heard around town. Plusquellic has heard em all since he unveiled the idea 22 days ago at his State of the City speech.

At the Feb. 7th address, he briefly outlined the need for affordable higher education so that more local kids can get to college .. and his plan, known as the "Akron Plan," is to help them by paying the tuition for Akron Public School grads to attend the U of A by selling/leasing our sewer system for more than $100 million.

Got it? You with me? Clear as mud?

The idea certainly got the community's attention .. with tons of follow-up questions and comments ... and plenty of folks wanting to know more .. and wanting to know if it's really that easy.

So I invited the Mayor to come on NNA and talk about the idea in detail. He sat down with Steve Hoffman of the Beacon Journal and me a short time ago and the 30 minutes just flew by as we talked about what the program could do for Akron .. and how reasonable it is to think that something like our sewers can actually fund it. Is it really that easy?

Plusquellic is quite candid with his descriptions .. and he provides a better outline of how he envisions the program working. He's also up front that there's a lot of work to do to make the program a reality, specifically forming two community groups. One would research the sewer lease options, and the other would develop and research the educational funding part.

The most significant aspect that the Mayor shared today that I hadn't heard until now, is the obligation those who use the program would have to Akron for receiving their free college scholarship. I won't give away the goods here .. but let's just say that dollar-for-dollar the city wouldn't be asking very much compared to what it would provide in the form of free tuition at the U of A. Trust me, it's nothing compared to taking out a $40K loan and paying it back with interest .. at least, as it sounds right now.

The show airs tonight at 9 p.m. .. and again in the middle of the morning. If you miss it .. or just want to see it again .. the show will be available after 10 p.m. tonight at in the video on demand section.

Does Plusquellic answer every question and every detail about a plan that could redefine our community and its young people? Nope .. not enough time for that. But our discussion does continue to raise interest in what could be a way to better educate our young people and bring new families to town.

I welcome your comments after it airs ... Eric


Anonymous said...

If I pay taxes shouldnt my children be able to take advantage of this program. They attend private schools. I find this program to very unfair to all akron taxpayers.

Ben said...

I would agree with that. If you pay taxes you should be eligible