11/12/06 — Take the next step: Proper school facilities essential to learning

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Take the next step: Proper school facilities essential to learning

At long last, the discussions have started about Wayne County school facilities — what we need and who will pay for them.

Meetings began last week — and two of the three committees, educational process and facilities and real estate — have already been dispatched to get started on their assignments.

The third — the money group — can do nothing until its members hear the results from the tours of more than 30 school buildings and discussions about what resources are needed to provide the best possible education for Wayne County students cost-effectively.

And how we will fund what we need and how much we will pay is a very important consideration. Like it or not, we have to do as a county what we can afford — even if our children deserve much more than that.

Commissioner Jack Best charged his fellow Facilities Master Plan team members to think about the children, that their futures are what really matters.

And he is right. That is the first thought we as a county should have as we plan where to spend our facilities dollars.

And, for now, that is the only discussion we should be having — about facilities.

During the past few months, there has been a lot of muddying of the waters in the facilities’ debate.

And while curriculum effectiveness and school and teacher performance are important — right now, they are not what needs to be discussed.

The condition of facilities in Wayne County — and the impending need to come up with more room in some areas — are vital considerations that are critical to the future economic viability of this community. Without adequate schools and facilities, Wayne County cannot hope to attract new residential and business investment. After all, what is the first factor most families consider when they are deciding on an area in which to relocate?

There is no more time to procrastinate, either.

The work has been delayed too long already — and we are going to pay in increased costs and more serious repair needs.

And after we finish talking about buildings and we have expressed our opinions as taxpayers about how much and how we are going to pay the bills, we can sit down and have a real discussion about what we can do as a county to support and improve our schools.

That’s when we should examine the real issues — not the easy analysis of what affects student and school performance, but the factors that no one wants to talk about, but that are significant when you are making an effective plan for the future.

So, let the work begin.

Published in Editorials on November 12, 2006 12:03 AM