Partnership has to work

Published 6:32 pm Friday, July 23, 2010

A few weeks ago we — for lack of a better word — chastised the Suffolk City Council for interfering in the site selection process for a new elementary school in the southern part of the city.

We said council members’ involvement was not needed, not wanted and would only further politicize a process that had already opened wounds in two of our city’s communities — Whaleyville and Holland.

The new school would merge the student bodies of both Southwestern Elementary in Holland and Robertson Elementary in Whaleyville. Both existing schools also would close.

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The process, which we thought had come to an end last summer, of deciding to close these schools and merge them into one, was drawn out, involved a number of public hearings and was politically risky for all involved. We applauded the decision, because it made sense, something not always seen when it comes to municipal government or public school leadership.

Unfortunately, all the plans seemed to fall apart in the spring, when the site chosen by the School Board was rejected because it did not meet the requirements of the city’s comprehensive plan for a school site. Following a number of weeks in delays, the City Council, thinking it was helping, jumped in and asked city staff to do a site search of their own.

This not only angered the School Board, but it set off a series of letters back and forth between the governmental bodies, with each announcing its authority to do as it wished and stating how the other infringed upon it.

But since that editorial and since those first round of letters, it appears both the City Council and the Suffolk School Board have entered into “marriage of opportunity.” While such a marriage rarely equals longtime happiness, it may be the best scenario in the short term.

With that said, just like other “marriages of opportunity,” this one will struggle. But this marriage has to work, if for no other reason than for the sake of the children.