I’ve read with interest several letters that seem to be pitting schools and neighborhoods against one another. We have to recognize that investing in our schools does not require the complete sacrifice of one school to prop up another.

For instance, Hawthorne doesn’t have to close in order to build a new Jim Darcy, and Jim Darcy kids don’t have to be bused into town in order to keep Hawthorne open. Just for perspective, only 13 children from Jim Darcy attend Hawthorne, while Hawthorne sends about 30 neighborhood kids to other schools.

The larger question is, what are our priorities as a community? Folks in the valley are concerned about long bus rides, so let’s build more capacity in the valley and accommodate as many of those kids as we can in a school closer to their home.

But let’s also be honest that the vast majority of those kids are still going to be on a bus, some for long trips. That’s simply the nature of a rural school environment.

Folks in town say they want small, walkable schools. Let’s have a real discussion about what we can sustain with enrollment zone populations, what we can afford on a reasonable operations budget, and most importantly, what’s best for the education of our kids. A reasonable plan will include both large schools for the valley and smaller neighborhood schools in town.

Will sacrifices have to be made to accommodate both? Maybe so, but let’s think about how our decisions impact every child, not just the ones in our own neighborhood.

I’m voting no on this bond, not because I think there’s a perfect plan out there, but because I know there’s a better plan that doesn’t pit one part of our community against another.

Richard Weddle

Helena

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