Our Opinion: Participate in public forum on school plan

News Tribune editorial

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;”

— William Shakespeare, “Henry V, Act III”

In the battle of ideas on how to advance public secondary education in Jefferson City, credit the local school district with inviting public comment at an upcoming session.

The Jefferson City School Board will host the public forum from 7-9 p.m. Monday in the Jefferson City High School cafeteria. The district will outline its plan to build a new public high school to replace the existing facility.

District board members and officials also will hear other ideas, which include a preference to build a second facility and operate two public high schools. Proponents of that concept have galvanized into an organized group and representatives recently addressed board members.

We don’t mean to belabor the issue; instead we intend to highlight its importance — reinforced by the number of people who have commented on the issue at meetings, in letters and on Web forums.

The decision by the school board will have a profound effect on the future of public education and taxation for school district patrons.

The district — board members, administrators, faculty and patrons — deserve credit for the diligent, measured steps taken thus far.

Site visits, consultant input, focus groups, surveys and public meetings all have been part of the process.

And, despite publicity along the way, public awareness grows as the process proceeds.

The process now has proceeded through several major steps. The academy concept has been embraced, a plan for a single, new high school has been endorsed; a site has been purchased; and an agreement has been reached to sell the existing high school and other facilities.

Despite those steps, the district has not closed its doors, or its mind, to alternative proposals. Questions we have heard relate to costs — for new construction, remodeling, operations, transportation — and how a facility’s size and instructional approach relate to educational opportunities and student performance.

These are consequential issues and questions. The school district has been diligent in its efforts to be transparent and share its information, considerations and decisions with patrons. Full disclosure and transparency are necessary throughout the process, which ultimately will be decided by district voters.

Any decision will leave some patrons disappointed, but that is very different from being disregarded.

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