12/16/06 — Getting serious: Boards’ cooperation will lead to better schools, county

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Getting serious: Boards’ cooperation will lead to better schools, county

After months of inactivity and some rancor, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and the Wayne County Board of Education finally seem to be making progress toward working together to solve the county school facilities issue.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be the beginnings of a discussion about what the schools need and what the county can afford that does not end in an accusation from either side or more stonewalling.

It actually seems possible that not only will there be a school facilities plan in 2007, but that it will be one that will offer a longterm plan for providing quality schools and maintaining them properly while still staying within the county’s means.

And that is what this county needs if we are going to come up with the best facilities possible for our children at the most reasonable cost.

Like it or not, we have to provide quality facilities that will stand the test of time and future growth — and we have to be very cautious of how much we spend to do it.

Both sides have important contributions to make to this issue. School officials are right to remind county lawmakers and taxpayers that they have been waiting a long time for an answer and that the time for delay is over. They are also right to push hard for what they think is best for the students they serve.

And the commissioners are right, too. This county cannot afford fancy schools and top-of-the-line buildings if it is going to remain fiscally responsible and affordable for the residents of all economic means who live here.

So, the solution really lies in both boards coming together, looking at the facts (which includes really spending some time in the schools), analyzing the availability of funds, and then coming up with a plan that allows the work to be done with no further delays.

And taking the time to do it right — as long as the county stays on schedule — is not a bad idea either, especially if taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars are involved.

Both boards should be commended for working hard to overcome past roadblocks and getting serious about getting to work.

That kind of cooperation is how you build quality schools and a strong county.

Published in Editorials on December 16, 2006 11:46 PM