I would like to clarify some issues raised by Mr. Good's My Turn in Friday's Empire. The issue the Assembly will vote on Jan. 27 is whether to build the Valley high school as proposed by the School Board, or build a smaller Valley high school. The state money available is for school construction. Any savings from building a smaller school would not translate to increased salaries or better programs. I commend the teachers at JDHS for accomplishing what they have been able to do with overcrowding and deficient facilities. However, this community has let too many kids fall through the cracks. By living with the overcrowding at JDHS, we lose $800,000 a year for operations that we will get when we complete the second high school. If our school is large enough we can save money on rent by housing the alternative high school and other programs.
The proposed Valley high school is part of an educational vision where our students will be in a smaller learning community; where every student can be known by some high school staff; and students have more opportunities for involvement.
The population projection numbers don't need to be inflated to justify the need for a new high school. We will be 500 students over capacity when the JDHS renovation is complete, that is with no growth. I believe our community will grow, recent studies in our community on parking and tourism say our community will grow and seem to align with the Department of Education's projections of 1.67 percent.
Mr. Good would like us to believe the School Board's proposal is bigger than what the voters approved in 1999, which was for 1,200 students. The current school board proposal is for 1,050 students. Research shows that kids are more apt to stay connected to school when they participate in activities not just academics. Having two schools will open up more opportunities for involvement. This is a good thing.
Please urge your Assembly to support the School Board's proposed Valley high school.