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Your Opinion: Questions about high school proposal

Dear Editor:

The school board plans to build a new school and sell existing facilities, including the athletic facilities. I am sympathetic to all the boosters that paid good money to renovate athletic facilities. The board spent $3.1 million for land and indicated voters will be asked to pass a bond issue to build the new school. Shouldn’t we voters have decided if we want or can afford a new school before land was purchased?

A few years ago the school board told us we needed to approve a bond issue to build Lawson. The bond issue failed but the board found money to build the school anyway. Is a levy increase even needed to build a new high school? After all, Jefferson City derives extra revenue because many students attend parochial schools.

The board and school administrators plan to implement an academies approach to education. They don’t even know, or seem to care about, the cost to implement academies but say it will be done whether or not a new school is built. Shouldn’t someone/everyone know the cost before implementation? Again, voters had no say.

The academies model is a four-decades-old concept that requires freshmen to select a career path and work in groups to solve problems. It has been said the academies approach will reduce the dropout rate. This may be true but, will good students suffer in the group process by doing all the work?

Will students acquire basic math, reading and writing skills in the academy approach that will be needed in an individualistic college classroom. How many extra teachers will be needed for each subject? Will students be able to function as individuals after being taught to work in groups? Will this process educate students or teach them a vocation? Shouldn’t students get a basic education before they specialize? What assurances are there that academies will be better than the current educational process?

Building a new school to match an academies model seems like a big gamble that academies are the answer. Are we really sure seven academy buildings will be cheaper than a second high school? Are academies good for students or just a fad? Why hasn’t the board done financial analysis and disclosed the cost of academies.

I urge you to carefully consider whether to support an $80 million bond request for a new school.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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