Two schools or one?

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, January 31, 2009

Deciding the fate of two village schools is a tough decision, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Suffolk City Council is charged with determining whether or not it’s best to tear down Robertson Elementary in Whaleyville and Southwestern Elementary in Holland, and replace the two with one new central school. The other option is to replace Southwestern Elementary and remodel Robertson Elementary.

This isn’t a new problem and, in fact, has been an ongoing topic on the agendas of the council and school board for more than four years. Interestingly, in 2005 it was the School Board pushing for the one-school concept, citing a declining population and additional costs for maintaining two schools. Then, council argued that keeping the schools in the communities bettered the quality of life in the villages. In a 2005 News-Herald story, City Councilman Curtis Milteer said, “Even though it will cost more, I support leaving a school in each village and dealing with the dollar issues.”

Now, four years later, the city council is calling for the one school concept and the school board is arguing in favor of the villages retaining their schools.

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It’s been interesting to see how the two public bodies have changed their respective stances on the issue, which reinforces the need for focused discussions and much public input. We’re glad to see the two bodies getting together on Wednesday to discuss the issue, and hope to see a meaningful resolution to the debate.