The move by the Mercer Island School Board to hold their meetings in the City Council chambers at City Hall is a move toward more transparency and inclusiveness. No one can say that the School Board’s deliberations are not open or available to all. The meetings can be viewed at home on public access channel 21.
Hooray to the city for making it as easy (and inexpensive) as possible for the board to use the facility. This sharing is a step in the right direction.
As the School Board moves to finalize what is needed to deliver a 21st century education to Island students and how much it will cost, Islanders can also witness some of the discussions about curriculum and other matters unrelated to facilities. Perhaps more can come to appreciate the complexity of overseeing a school system in the 21st century.
One of the key challenges facing the board is how to prioritize and weigh the cost of constructing new buildings plus or minus the other valuable community assets that surround the high school. Those assets — YTN, the high school stadium and the pool — are at risk.
The school district is not obligated to provide for these other community assets. Their mission is education. Yet, school leaders know they cannot ignore their presence and how much they enrich the learning process.
If the community wants these included in a school bond issue, they must be willing to stand up and say so.
As the School Board sets out to rebuild facilities, many still want to know why such big changes are necessary and why they cost so much. One just has to look at nearby school districts and what they are proposing for their buildings to see what is needed. It is doubtful that any of those plans are gold-plated.
Islanders cannot say with any credibility that what was good enough for them is good enough for our youth. It is not. As good as they may be, teachers cannot make up for the dearth of space within a building or the lack of state-of-the-art tools needed to prepare students for a world beyond the schoolhouse.