04/30/07 — No more stalling: Next step on school facilities now up to the commissioners

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No more stalling: Next step on school facilities now up to the commissioners

The numbers are in and the plan is in place.

Now, all it will take is a little cooperation, realism and a determination that — this time — they are going to get the job done.

No, this is not the beginning of an episode of survival of the fittest or the commencement address for the Class of 2007.

This is what should be the attitude of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and the Wayne School Board of Education.

The school system has provided the much-requested, but often ignored, facilities request. It is — as directed — a full recitation of what needs to be done to bring Wayne County Schools’ facilities up to par. It also includes — again, as directed — additional funding to improve programs and other offerings to boost the academic performance of schools and students.

And, it is shocking to see it. It is a lot of money — nearly $100 million.

So, what’s the next step?

Well, that is in the hands of the commissioners.

The measure they will have before them is the bottom line — what needs to be done to get the facilities question put to bed once and for all.

The additional money addresses a much-discussed issue — how to improve the quality of the county’s schools. More money for teachers and programs, it won’t improve test scores overnight, but it might start the district on the road to where it would like its students to be.

But what is most important to remember, now, is that the requests are in and the meetings, analysis and other issues are over.

It is time for a decision on what the next step is going to be.

For years, the facilities question has been bandied about between the school board and the commissioners. Arguments, harsh words and criticism on both sides have kept this process in limbo.

And all the while, the cost clock has continued ticking. What it would have taken to fix the facilities issue nine years ago, when many of the arguments started, has increased exponentially. And, the once less-complicated repairs are now more complex as well. Inaction has not actually saved this county a dime — not longterm.

Now, the issue has come to a head and there is a final issue on the table. No more room for debate. No more time to put off a decision.

What it is time for, however, is a bit of leadership from the county commissioners.

They have the budget. They know the money situation. Now, it is time to come up with a plan — and reasoned explanations for why they have made the choices they have.

No more stalling. No more finger-pointing. Just a decision.

And after all that is set, it will be time for county residents to decide what they want for their county and their schools.

And when all that is complete, this county can get back to the business of growing, improving and providing a future for the next generation.

That will be a red-letter day.

Published in Editorials on April 30, 2007 10:37 AM