Monday, October 31, 2011

What This Town Needs Is A New School

Small Town is at war, sort of. The state has declared our high school to be unfit, one of the worst in Ohio as far as the structure goes. The foundation is solid, but the rest is falling apart, and we'll get $9 million toward the construction of a new building if we can get the community to pass a levy to raise the rest. So, now there is a big fight over everything related to the subject—where to build, why to build, when to build. People are accusing the administration of not spending operating funds properly, suggesting that if they had been more frugal, the building wouldn't be in bad shape.

I think they would rather make that accusation than accept the blame themselves. If they had passed previous requests for increased operating funds, we could have updated the building over time. But they repeatedly rejected pleas for more funding, so there was never enough money to keep the boilers operating, to repair the roof, to update the plumbing and wiring, or to provide updated labs. These same funds buy buses and books and anything tangible, basically. Now it would be cheaper to start from scratch than it would be to make all the necessary repairs and updates, and the state will only pitch in for new construction.

So, here is my response in today's edition of Small Town newspaper. It won't appear in the paper's online edition until this afternoon, and I suspect the subject will garner some unsavory comments, so I'm linking to the Salon post for now.

The committee has already addressed the subjects of funding, structural concerns, and educational needs, so I felt free to talk about the sentimental aspect of fighting to keep the old building. I understand sentimental attachment. I have kept shoes for years just because they reminded me of fun times. I keep my high school marching band jacket hanging in a closet more than 30 years after last wearing it. I was upset when Macy's bought Marshall Field's and changed the name. Imagine not having a Marshall Field on State Street—how could they rob me of my years of memories and experiences. Don't they understand how important it is to maintain continuity?

So, you see, I get it, but there is more at stake here than memories and continuity. What's at stake is our ability to sufficiently educate our students, which reverberates into every other aspect of community life and development. I repeatedly voted to increase operating funds for the school and would have loved to see the building refitted for a new era, but my vote wasn't enough to do any good. So, here we are.

1 comment:

dive said...

Ah, the Voice of Reason. It amazes me anyone in Small Town could possibly get worked up over any of your pieces, Robyn. But then I remember that while no sane person could do anything other than agree with you, you do live in Small Town America, home of the not quite so sane, balanced and rational.