A good choice on schools issue

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, February 19, 2009

There’s some good news and some bad news in the capital improvements plan that the Suffolk City Council approved on Wednesday night.

The bad news is that no money was committed for renovations at Whaleyville’s Robertson Elementary School. The good news is that the City Council set aside $22 million for a new school to replace aging Southwestern Elementary School. What makes that news good for both the Holland and Whaleyville communities is that council didn’t set aside even more money for a school.

By committing only enough money to build a school large enough to serve Holland-area residents, City Council telegraphed an apparent intention to support the idea of community schools, bowing to the desires of the School Board and members of both communities.

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A proposal that had been under consideration would have combined both schools into one facility, which would have been located on property located somewhere between the two rural communities. Such an arrangement would have forced the city’s youngest children to ride buses far longer than they should each day. It also would have removed the vital connections between the communities and their schools.

Reasonable thinking on the subject seems to have prevailed, judging from the CIP that council agreed to on Wednesday. The money for Southwestern will be available this year, meaning a desperately needed new school is on the way for Holland.

Whaleyville residents will have to wait a bit longer for the renovations that their school needs. But at least they can still refer to it as their school.