I read a recent letter to the Readers Speak column (June 28: Jeremy M. Wyman) and was reminded of when I served on the board of the Warren County School District. From my seat on the school board I learned that what Mr. Wyman says in his letter is exactly true: That there would never be a time when the WCSD would become a cohesive well functioning consolidation of the bulk of Warren County: This despite the fact that the WCSD is now over 50 years old. I also came up with the same conclusion as Mr. Wyman on the only course that would lead to harmony and fairness for the disparate areas of Warren County. That solution is to dissolve the WCSD and allow the various areas to form their own districts. Those districts would be The Warren area; The Youngsville area; The Sheffield area; and The Northern area. At that time Tidioute was the most unhappy area in the consolidated district, but they solved their dilemma by forming a Charter school. The rest are still and will always chafe at the bonds of the WCSD.
Most people in the Warren Area seem to favor one high school which would be satisfactory for them, but there is a serious flaw to that plan when it comes to the rest of the county. You see, there are well over 700 square miles in the WCSD and the prohibitive distances for children in the far corners of the county get to ride to Warren would seriously harm their school experience (think of small children trying to get caught up on their sleep on the bus after getting up earlier than a small child should be made to do so). Think of such areas as the roads outside Bear Lake; Selkirk Road past Grand Valley or the village of Barnes. These children would need to get up very early to get on the buses to ride to school and conversely, arrive home late after school. These things I know because I was at one time the Supervisor of Transportation for the WCSD. Think also of the added costs of transportation to go all those extra miles and you will see why I know that much of the cost savings of consolidation would be eaten by higher transportation costs.
Part of the thinking favoring bringing all the children to Warren is to bolster athletic numbers. Imagine how many would actually go out for sports if they had to either get their parents to drive long distances to pick them up after practice or ride a very long bus ride to these far-flung home areas. Very likely they would also feel no enthusiasm for participating in sports at this school they’ve been forced to attend. This would decrease, not increase the participation rate making less chances for children to experience valuable extracurricular activities. Even if it was permanently resolved that each of the current high schools would never be closed (which could not be done), the resentment would continue: Warren thinking the rest of the county was draining their tax money away and the other areas feeling Warren was getting all the best of everything.
Eisenhower has been shown to have the best academic standing in the district (despite Warren draining some of their brighter minds due to the elimination of AP courses in the home schools). Sheffield and Youngsville both rely on their local schools to bolster their local identities. I was stunned by how many people were ready to leave Youngsville when it was rumored their school might close. Also, I know people who have sold their home and moved further north when the line was moved so that their children would have been forced to remove from Eisenhower to go to Youngsville. These are natural areas which, like Tidioute just want to have their schools left alone by a district that grew too big.
In conclusion, the only permanent and workable solution which would satisfy each area is for them to form their own district so that their own tax money would go to educate their own children. Their own local people would serve on their own school boards and decide what was best for their own children. If this were to be accomplished, then and only then would all the areas of the county be satisfied that their own children’s needs were being fairly met and their tax dollars spent well.
Gary P. Wallin,