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Friday, 27 June 2014

Almere, the primary schools and the ‘piggy bank of alderman Henk Mulder’

This morning, I heard on the radio the statement of alderman Henk Mulder of the Dutch city Almere, that the Stimulus Arrangement for Public Housing was a big success in our city.  And that his €7 million piggy bank, reserved for this arrangement, had been emptied within a year.

And I didn’t understand it…

I heard him say that starters on the housing market in Almere, who otherwise would be forced to rent a house or – pity them – to live with their parents a little while longer, were now able to buy a house anyway. Due to a 3 year amortization and interest free loan, to the tune of 20% of the mortgage amount. And that 240 households had been aided with this plan.

And I didn’t understand it…

Subsequently, I heard Mulder say that – now the first piggy bank was emptied– Almere wanted to create a second piggy bank: both Minister of Public Housing Stef Blok and the city Almere would have to add €5 million to it, totalling it to €10 million for a new Stimulus Arrangement for Public Housing. This would enable the arrangement to resume its beneficial work for the finally accelerating Dutch housing market, particularly in Almere.

And I didn’t understand it…

Ultimately, I heard Henk Mulder say that the A6 highway would go underground within 8 years – or at least would be lowered – as Almere is going to host the 2022 Floriade, the massive Global Exhibition for Agriculture.

And I didn’t understand it…

And I thought about the wonderful primary school of my children in Almere and that this school had to sell the building, belonging to the day nursery, because it needed the money. The day nursery itself would be hosted in the already overcrowded school building.

And I didn’t understand it…

And I pondered that the classes of my children would be merged with classes of other age groups. And that several, wonderful teachers and class assistants had been fired, causing some classes to grow to thirty children next year. And that some children could not participate in their school trips, because their parents could not or did not want to pay their voluntary contribution for the school and the school itself could not afford it either.

And I didn’t understand it…

And I contemplated that Almere has – by far – the weakest schools in The Netherlands. And also that the school of my children – which is actually not weak yet – was forced to hire up to nine replacement teachers and assistants to finish the current school year for a certain class. And eight replacement teachers for another class.

And that some parents were leaving this wonderful school, as their children were ‘shell-shocked’ from all these replacement teachers, which were not allowed to stay after their stint had finished. As there was no money for it.

And I didn’t understand it…

Finally, I considered that every euro of community money, invested in a primary school kid, will be earned back three times in average. However, locking up community money in houses and superfluous(!) infrastructure, only yields ‘dead money’ and a little bit of work for construction companies and furniture boulevards. And I wondered, if it is really such a shame to live with mom and dad a few years longer, or to rent a house and save the money for the future downpayment on a house?!


And I still didn’t understand it…

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