Juneau children deserve two schools

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, October 03, 2004

Renovating Marie Drake to make an expanded Juneau-Douglas High School will cost more to build and operate than a second high school.

Independent auditors Elgee, Rehfeld and Mertz said it would cost the Juneau School District $350,000 more a year to operate an expanded JDHS.

The state does not increase operating funds for an expanded school, only for new schools.

An expanded JDHS does not offer expanded parking for the school or community.

Marie Drake is a 40-year-old building. According to a July 2004 report by Anchorage engineering firm BBRM, the building would have to be razed to bring it up to current 2003 international building codes.

Why do we need more space?

JDHS is approximately 50 percent over capacity - that's at least 500 students over the building limits.

Larger sprawling facilities are harder to manage, and more difficult for staff to collaborate on program direction. (Have you ever tried to sprint from Spanish class in Marie Drake to the music rooms or gym without getting a pink slip?) Currently we lose 35 percent of our potential graduates between seventh and 12th grades to dropouts, home schooling, and kids "sent south" to other schools.

Floyd Dryden is at 135 percent capacity, and DZ at 115 percent.

Our district rents space to house other programs, like the alternative school.

When the Legislature authorizes funds to lower class sizes, we will not have the rooms in which to put the additional teachers.

So, what's stopping us? Come on, Juneau. Get out and vote yes on Prop. 1, and build our new high school. Your children and mine deserve two high schools.

Andy Peterson


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