Overcrowding issue isn’t going away

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 1999

If the children are, as one school board member says, &uot;the bottom line,&uot; then we’re missing the point.

The children — in this case the thousands of youngsters enrolled in the Natchez-Adams County public schools — deserve the best education possible.

And, in this case, they are being handicapped by overcrowded campuses and a 10-year-old court order. That court order, issued by a federal judge, removed the district’s unitary status; restructured its campuses; and placed strict guidelines on the racial balance of both classes and administrations.

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The court order came as a result of a lawsuit filed by three Natchez couples, including two men who are now elected officials.

While the lawsuit has brought much-needed improvements in our district, the growth and changes during the past 10-plus years have not been without their challenges.

Now, we face another one:

School district officials want to petition the court to allow the reopening of Braden Elementary on Homochitto Street as a K-6 school. And, as part of that, the board wants to return Frazier, West, McLaurin and Morgantown to K-6 schools.

The goal, in both cases, is to ease what district officials, parents, teachers and community members all agree is concerning — overcrowding at the first schools our district students enter. And, the board has said plainly it does not intend to use the move to request a return to unitary status — which would essentially remove court oversight of the racial balances within the district.

But the plaintiffs — at least some of them — and the Natchez NAACP have gone on record saying they oppose the move.

And that concerns us.

Because if our children really are the bottom line — and we really are committed to giving them the best educational opportunities possible — we need to alleviate the overcrowding.

And soon.