Let me save the McDowell group a phone call.
I am a former teacher, a parent of a future student and a staunch supporter of education. I also voted in both previous elections in favor of a new high school.
They lost me on this one.
Let me tell you why.
I believe a quality education comes from lots of happy, well-compensated and, not least of all, highly qualified teachers instructing a variety of courses in a safe environment. It has little to do with how big or small, new or old, fancy or plain the building itself is.
The problem is the Juneau School District has failed to prove that a new high school will address those issues. Will there be additional, qualified teachers once that school is built? No. Will a variety of courses be offered to all of the district's students once that school is built? No. Will those students be any safer once that school is built? No.
The problem is there is an exorbitant amount of money going into an inanimate object that has no direct influence on the education of the youth inside of it. There will still be large class sizes and there will still be a limited number of courses available. There will still be students dropping out and students who feel threatened. The only way to counteract these problems is by hiring more staff, teachers, counselors and aides to assist students, engage students and protect students.
I don't care if the entire cost of the new school was being reimbursed by the Legislature. It takes money to run a school year after year above and beyond what it takes to build it. Those costs don't go away and only increase. When the budget gets tight, the first things to go are programs and teachers (and buses and?). Sadly, it is the students who pay the biggest price.
When the district shows me it is actively seeking solutions now to address the high dropout rate, when it has demonstrated there are students to warrant more classrooms, when it has hired the teachers to fill those classrooms and when it has reinstated programs and introduced additional ones in which students can become involved, it is at that time that I would be happy to support a new high school.
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