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I urge Juneau residents to reject the current proposal to derail the Valley High School.
While I agree that the school district's projections in 1998 were inaccurate, it is in my opinion wrong to hold off on planning, balloting and legislative approval until our high school population swells to 2,100 kids. If you agree with this requirement of the proposed ballot proposition, the high school population would have to grow by another 400 students before we begin again the lengthy planning and funding process which can take five or more years.
In 1998 the community debated and rejected the one high school concept. The district at the time proposed one large valley school of 1,500 students and the conversion of Juneau-Douglas High School into a ninth grade center. Sent to the voters, the measure failed.
Surveying and lengthy public discussion followed. It was clear from the public responses that a majority favored two schools. The two school measure was sent to the voters in 1999 and won with a strong majority.
Efforts then focused on legislative reimbursement which was not immediately successful. After two or three sessions, we were able to take advantage of a window of opportunity provided to communities that had already received local bonding approval. We qualified and 60 percent reimbursement for our project became a reality.
Getting a project of this magnitude approved takes tremendous effort on the part of many people. Let's not make the mistake of waiting until our high school population is 400 more to get started.
Assembly member, 1995-2001