Please continue support for the new high school

Posted: Monday, February 02, 2004

I ask the Juneau Assembly members to please continue to support the new high school. Juneau-Douglas High School is already overcrowded. Waiting until there are 2,100 students enrolled at JDHS before we even start the process of finding funds from the Legislature and building a second high school, as the petition asks the assembly to do, will force too many kids to suffer in a terrible learning environment.

To add insult to injury, the delay sought by the petition will mean spending lots of money in the interim putting modular classrooms on the roof, trailers in the parking lot, or some such half-baked way to deal with 2,100 kids at JDHS. Only after 2,100 kids are crammed into JDHS will we begin to compete with the rest of the state for money from the Legislature to match our bonds and build a new school. If history is a guide, we will be waiting for years before the Legislature puts Juneau's high school on its funding list - particularly since we will have been such a reluctant bride the first time! Once the Legislature finally decides to put Juneau on its list, then we will spend several years going out to bid and building a new school. While we wait for the Legislature, architects and builders to all do their work, the number of students being squeezed into JDHS will grow and we will waste even more money on temporary fixes. And the worst part is Juneau's kids will continue to suffer. I just don't see how this makes sense for our kids or our budget.

Delaying the high school does not fit with most people's vision for Juneau. Except for those who advocate no growth, people are working to attract businesses and families to Juneau, not discourage them. We are putting fancy intersections on Egan Expressway, pushing a second crossing to develop North Douglas, building a golf course, improving our port, advocating for the Kennsington mine to open, pushing for either a road or better ferry service to and from Juneau, and on and on. Having a high school that is an overcrowded, patchwork of makeshift facilities will be a strong deterrent for people and businesses thinking of locating in Juneau. Our economy will suffer and our children will get a poor education. What kind of future is that?

Juneau is ready to move ahead to a positive future. A new high school will be a big step in that direction. The funding is there to build the school. Please don't turn back.

Frank Rue


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