Students deserve benefits of smaller schools

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Once again folks are debating whether or not to go ahead and build the second high school. For many of us the debate's over, the decision is made and there are lots of good reasons to proceed. To name a few: it's close to the dense population in the Valley, it will provide community facilities for a host of activities, there will be a genuine campus, it's close to the university and it is needed now.

When my sophomore-year Juneau-Douglas High School daughter required a letter of recommendation for AFS study in Argentina we asked a middle school teacher to write this letter. Her mom and I were disappointed that her hard-working high school teachers simply did not know her well enough to provide the needed letter. What we learned is our school is too big, too crowded (even after this much-needed remodel) and too far away for much of the student population. The new school will be adjacent to the university (almost) and will provide economies for all to enjoy. We need it now, let's build it now.

No one can see into the future, all we can do is make a prudent and proper attempt to prepare for it. At this time we have the bonding, state participation and a strengthening economy to take this next important step. The Kensington mine will probably start construction by August; hundreds of new jobs building the mine with long-term, high-paying permanent jobs will follow. Many do not realize that the Greens Creek mine provides a $38 million a year contribution to Juneau's economy, and this money rolls over and over in the community. Kensington will do the same in our resource economy state. Our community needs to be proactive, not reactive. It's so easy to raise concern and fear, so hard to lead and build. Take the high road, understand that Alaska is a resource state; prudent development of Alaska's resources is our future and our children's future.

I can't say it any better than yesterday's letter writer. Stay the course, build for a positive future, and do not be afraid.

Jim Akins


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