The right, unpopular decision
Published 6:22 pm Saturday, January 16, 2010
When the Suffolk School Board first began to discuss a plan to close elementary schools serving the communities of Holland and Whaleyville, it was apparent that nobody in the two villages who has young children would be entirely happy with the conclusion.
The two old and inadequate schools would be replaced by a new, technologically advanced facility that would serve portions of the populations of both Robertson and Southwestern Elementary schools, but it seemed likely that neighborhood schooling would be a thing of the past for both Holland and Whaleyville.
One can argue with the thinking that was involved — and many from both communities did — but the reasoning that a single facility would benefit from economies of scale not available under a dual-school approach was sound, and it carried the day.
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Now, as the School Board begins it search for a site to place the new building, the old arguments have come back to the surface. During a meeting this week, School Board members considered and ultimately rejected a site in Holland, much to the chagrin of parents and others in Holland, who wanted the new building located in that village.
Once again, it is easy to understand why Holland-area parents would want the new facility located close to their homes — short bus rides, easy access for parents and the like — but the same considerations make it easy to see why parents in Whaleyville would be opposed to that solution.
The School Board made a Solomon-like choice on Thursday by rejecting a Holland location for the school, and in doing so it sent another message that it is serious about its desire to start afresh with the new building. It may not have been a popular decision, but it was the right one, given the course that was set at the beginning of the process.
It is time for parents from both communities to get on board and work to support the new school, wherever it is located. That will be easier to accomplish if the building is located somewhere in between the two communities, where nobody can claim it is located just outside someone else’s back door.