The current petition drive is simply the latest attempt to derail construction of the new valley high school. The opposition to the new school is unfortunate, though not unexpected. Since the mid-1990s approximately one-third of Juneau voters, for a variety of reasons, have opposed the new school. As the project has progressed, and is now ready for bidding next month and groundbreaking this summer, once again every imaginable "concern" is raised to deny our students a much-needed and long-delayed facility.
Through much hard work on the part of hundreds of individuals the new Dimond Park school can be ready for students in August 2006. Simply placing this issue once again on the ballot (for the fourth time in five years) will delay occupancy by one school year and result in additional construction costs of about $1.5 million. That is the outcome even if the voters defeat this ballot measure.
This week the school district is providing some 25-plus pages of budgetary, financial, demographic and educational details answering questions relating the new school. Anyone with an open mind cannot be other than convinced that the right course has been followed and that it remains imperative to continue to move forward and fill this critical need.
Through Proposition C state reimbursement Juneau is poised to get a $62 million building for about $25 million. If we do not take advantage of this one-time opportunity now, other Alaska communities will and the prospect for Juneau to build a second high school will virtually disappear. Our only option at that point is simply to pack more and more students in an already overcrowded Juneau-Douglas High School.
Now is the time to reject this petition drive and proceed with our commitment to all our children.