While some folks sponsoring the current initiative to halt the project are concerned about costs, I suspect that others see the initiative as another opportunity to keep Juneau a one-high school town with dominant sports teams. I hope we don't go down that road again. With two schools, more students have the opportunity to participate in sports and other activities, more students are known by their teachers and administrators, and more can be done to foster good will and respect among students. Surely these goals should be paramount.
I read with interest the news articles articulating the concern that the town cannot take on the additional fund-raising that will be required for additional teams, a fair concern. Many creative solutions to the "activities problem" will be found once the two schools are a reality. Perhaps both schools will field duplicate teams, but perhaps not every sport will be available at both schools. Let's look at how to solve the problem in ways that improve our educational system, rather than looking for obstacles to building the much-needed Valley high school.
One of the most compelling pieces I've read on this topic was written by Randy Wanamaker. He lamented the high dropout rate in the Juneau School District, but observed that if those students stayed in the system, they would generate more than enough money through the state foundation formula to pay the additional costs associated with running two high schools. Brilliant! We should care enough about these students to work on how to keep them in school through graduation. But if anyone needed an additional reason to start working on the dropout rate, this is it.
These students are truly a resource in every sense of the word. They are a part of our community and will continue to be. We want them to be well-educated. And their presence makes the economics work such that we can provide two schools for the town of Juneau, benefiting all our school-age citizens.
Will Juneau really turn its back on a one-time opportunity for millions of dollars of state aid to build our Valley high school? Do you wish you hadn't signed that petition? Call the city and get your name removed. Let's keep the momentum going for the long-awaited valley high school. Generations of students will thank you, and Juneau will be a better place.
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