By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Carter County has a few meetings coming up related to the issue of school consolidation – one at Olive Hill Elementary and one at Prichard. At stake is whether Carter County will continue to maintain East and West high schools for the foreseeable future, or whether they will consolidate and pool resources.
There are potential benefits and drawbacks to both consolidation and maintaining the status quo, but it will be for the facilities commission and – ultimately – the school board to decide. Parents can and should provide their feedback, though. But that feedback shouldn’t be based on emotion and sentimentality (though there is nothing wrong with either). Instead it should be based on information and thoughtful consideration of that information.
And the best way to get that information is to regularly attend school board meetings and hear for yourself what the board is planning and working on. Of course you can always read the coverage of the meetings in the newspaper. In fact, we appreciate it when you do.
But there are times when we don’t ask the questions you may want answered. Or we don’t ask it with the same emphasis you would like.
We may ask about bus routes, but we don’t know the specific route your child travels. So, we can’t ask that sort of focused question. That’s why it’s important for parents who are concerned to be involved in school board meetings, and not just when controversial issues like consolidation are on the agenda, but all the time.
While we do our best, as the January 20, 1921 issue of the Herald noted, “it is the duty of the public to take an interest in those meetings, just as they should the meeting of city council, and attend them and assist in any way possible in the work they have before them.”
Or, we might add, if you don’t agree with the work they are planning, to let them know why.
We understand it isn’t always plausible for everyone to make every meeting. It’s why we cover the meetings in the newspaper. But to the extent possible, it’s important to stay informed and involved.
No matter what happens, there are going to be folks who aren’t happy, but at least they’ll be able to explain why they aren’t happy if they are well informed. And well informed discontent can often lead to reversals or suspension of plans.
Sometimes, though, closures happen and there is nothing to be done about it. Like when, in December of 1920, two popular teachers moved on to other tasks, resulting in the closure of the Perry’s Branch school. Or when Olive Hill and Prichard high schools were closed prior to the opening of the East and West Carter campuses. As the Perry’s Branch story reflects, no ending or change every comes without some sadness or sense of loss. But if you know what you are losing, you can sometimes mitigate that loss, even if you can’t stop it.
But you can’t fully understand what you are losing, or gaining, if you aren’t informed. So, please, read the paper. But, if you can, come out to the school board meetings as well.
Lots of things have changed over the 100+ years since Perry’s Branch closed and a new school board was organized in Olive Hill, but the importance of making an informed decision isn’t one of them. So, take a tip from the January 20, 1921 Carter County Herald and “take an interest in those meetings.”
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