School defenders must offer more than sentiments

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2003

Councilman Curtis Milteer’s defense of Robertson and Southwestern elementary schools is admirable.

The Suffolk School Board, in its Capital Improvement Plan presented to City Council Wednesday, is recommending that the aging schools that serve Whaleyville and Holland youngsters be abandoned in favor of a brand spanking new $11 million elementary school located somewhere between the communities. Robertson and Southwestern are about 11 miles apart.

Milteer is right in that it would be a shame for the communities to lose their schools, facilities that in effect serve as the heart and soul of these villages. For many residents, it’s just another case of them being forced to sacrifice. They are tired of being told to wait while downtown and the north – to them at least – appear to be financially coddled.


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Nonetheless, sentimentality alone is not a valid reason to oppose the plan. Those wishing to save those schools need to do their homework and present a well-thought out alternative.

The one and only argument in favor of school consolidation is efficiency. Studies have shown that consolidation does little to actually improve learning for students and some even suggest it to be detrimental to the learning process. One would think that with the millions upon millions being spent on schools in Suffolk that enough money is not is available to maintain the villages’ schools.

That’s what defenders of Robertson and Southwestern need to show. Sentimentality is not good enough.