02/25/06 — After the exam: Facilities study should lead to definitive plan for schools

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After the exam: Facilities study should lead to definitive plan for schools

Today and tomorrow, you will read the Wayne County Commission’s response to some of the questions that have continued to swirl about the school facilities funding question.

Last week, you read how the Wayne County Board of Education sees the issue.

None of these responses are ironclad explanations or solutions. No decisions are going to come from this discussion. It is clear that there will be no action on the funding question until the results are back from the county’s consultant.

And since the taxpayers are funding a $120,000 in-depth examination of the facilities, the district’s needs and the county’s ability to fund those necessities, it seems only fitting that the resolution to the issue include information from that study.

That is the smart way to make this kind of important decision.

Maintaining and upgrading the county’s school facilities should not be an “us vs. them” proposition — and throwing barbs should not be a part of the process either. So, it was nice to see that both the county manager and the county schools superintendent, as well as the school board and commission chairmen, also are determined that name-calling and finger-pointing are not going to be a part of the continued negotiations.

This county has a lot of priorities for the coming years. Attracting more industry, residential development and other investment in the region is an important part of that agenda.

So, too, is improving the county infrastructure, which is also a necessity if this county is going to attract more interest.

In addition to all the other factors that matter to an investor looking for a new region in which to locate, school facilities and quality of education are important considerations.

So, making sure the next budget includes a definitive plan for identifying and funding school needs — immediately and over the next five to 10 years — is critical. And while county and school district officials are plotting out how they are going to repair or upgrade school facilties, they should also come up with a plan for taxpayers detailing how much money they are going to need, and where it is going to come from now and in the future.

It is nice to know that the lines of communication are open between the county and the school district — and that both groups are committed to keeping it that way.

This facilities plan is a project that should be among the county’s top priorities during the first half of 2006.

And it is one that the taxpayers of this community should demand be accomplished before the next budget cycle rolls around. It is that important.

Published in Editorials on February 25, 2006 11:49 PM