City and schools need a shared vision

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, March 21, 2013

By Dennis Edwards

I wonder what is at the heart of the tug of war involving Suffolk City Hall and the School Board when it comes to the city wanting more input or control over school system building contracts.

The city does have an interest and responsibility to taxpayers to monitor and be involved in the use and expenditure of public funds. In that capacity, it’s reasonable to wonder whether certain successful cost-cutting measures are part of school system practices.

Email newsletter signup

However, the school system appears to have a certain kind of autonomy under state law. Its decision to resist city efforts at deeper involvement is to be expected. Ultimately, the courts may have to decide.

But the question going un-asked in this debate is how can a fight like this produce a beneficial result for the city? Both sides need each other.

Is it possible that both sides need more of a shared vision? A shared vision of what Suffolk City Schools are and should be. A shared vision on how the placement of schools in every part of the city will benefit educational needs, prosperity and growth all over. A shared vision that could perhaps produce more neighborhood schools, instead of what appears to be a desire for schools only in certain parts of the city.

Battles and fights are to be expected in the public arena. But those battles should produce a result for the common good. I’m hoping this one will.

Just as “no man is an island,” no school system stands alone. On the other hand, control is a nice thing to have. But the kind of control that produces no benefit for the public is merely an exercise in mediocrity. There’s no growth, expansion or prosperity in mediocrity.

So here we are again. Will we use this chaos to produce an opportunity? Or will we get lost in the arguments and miss a chance at creating a stronger, more responsible shared vision, a vision that helps move Suffolk forward through a school system that can be the hallmark and the reason for the entire city’s resurgence.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and anchor, He is a 1974 graduate of Suffolk High School. Email him at