Friday, September 26, 2008

School Board Finally Gets It Right

After 26 months of "study" trying to justify the developer's dreams of Bobbynu, the Cowbirds, and their obedient house organ to build a new high school out on Deane Solomon Road, the Fayetteville School Board reluctantly accepted the facts and voted unanimously to move forward with a 21st century high school facility on the present campus adjacent to the University of Arkansas. They are to be commended for that.

"We’ve had many spirited discussions,” Board President Steve Percival said. “It’s time to move on.” He is right in more ways than one, and it seems that the staff is ready to get with the program. Assistant Superintendent Dick Johnson said there already had been some positive dialogue with school officials and city officials about redeveloping the streets and infrastructure around the school. UA Chancellor David Gearhart sent a letter expressing his hope that the university, the school district and the city could work together to develop a plan for the area. Alderman Lioneld Jordan, chair of the city street committee, sent a letter offering the street committee’s help on dealing with some of those issues that could add an additional acre for building as well as adding additional bike lanes and sidewalks. Mayor Dan Coody also sent a letter saying he and the city staff could "help facilitate an exchange of ideas."

Board member Tim Kring said, "We had to look at all the options. I'm glad to see where we are. We have to ask our community to focus on helping us move forward." By that, Kring means we need to start thinking about how to pass a millage increase to build a world-class high school. Until recent years, Fayetteville has always been willing to step up and pay for almost any proposal for additional funding for education, then there was the debacle of 2005 when voters finally said no by an overwhelming majority. That was a referendum on Bobbynu. Now that he will be gone, the District has an opportunity to improve communication and regain public trust. Let's hope that they do.

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