Saturday, February 2, 2008

Quote of the Day

"In the case of the local school board’s decision about Fayetteville High School’s future, the blinders went on early. The citizens’ group appointed to make a recommendation to the school board was told to consider only the questions of one school versus two schools, whether the present school should be retained and rearrangements of the grade structure. The committee was designed to be blind to the critical question of where a new high school would be located even though this question is entangled with the other questions, because a single school in the most likely new location — the northwest corner of town out beyond I-540 — would create a sprawling land-rush that would be exactly opposite to what citizens envisioned in City Plan 2025.

"Discussion participants complained from the start that the process was biased in favor of one new high school. The Northwest Arkansas Times reported in December 2006 that 'several participants... complained the overview by administrators seemed slanted in favor of one all-new high school. The same overview has been made at other meetings.'

"This tendency to tightly control the agenda continues today as crucial discussions are closed to the public and the press....

"But the prospect of getting rid of the existing school caused a ruckus: an outspoken public feedback session, a 6-1 vote by the Fayetteville City Council, a new organization called Build Smart, and a unanimous vote by the Council of Neighborhoods all supported the present central location. Thus, the board appointed another citizens’ group to further consider this matter....

"A recent Northwest Arkansas Times editorial complained that a middle ground in this debate has yet to develop. But one school on the existing property is the middle ground, the compromise between (1 ) two schools and (2 ) one school in the far reaches of town.

"A new high school for 1, 500, preferably more centrally located than the northwest corner, and renovation of the present high school for another 1, 500, would be best for students and best for Fayetteville. Second best would be one high school on the existing property. A single humongous high school far outside of town beyond I-540 would be absolutely the worst choice."

--Art Hobson, "The Saga Continues," Northwest Arkansas Times

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