School plans need more discussion

Published 12:35 am Sunday, January 8, 2017

Clearly, more public discussion is needed before a direction is determined on how to move forward with the Natchez-Adams School District’s plans to build a new high school and renovate other schools.

Natchez Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis told school board members she vehemently opposed the plans, which include closing Joseph L. Frazier Elementary School and Robert Lewis Magnet School.

Arceneaux-Mathis’ expressed opposition was not rooted in the belief that the closures in some way harmed the educational endeavors of the district. Mostly she just seemed upset that buildings might be abandoned or even demolished. She even espoused that she did not care how much keeping the two school buildings would cost. That’s an irresponsible and emotional response.

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The truth is we need to apply common sense and consensus on how to improve the public school facilities.

We understand the emotional ties people have to school buildings, however, we also know that allowing pure emotion to drive decisions about our children’s educational system can cause us to make poor decisions with drastic consequences.

Both the school district and the City of Natchez have struggled to maintain and provide upkeep for a number of publicly owned buildings in their respective inventories.

Before any permanent direction is made, the public needs to know that all angles have been considered.

We’d love it if the district could figure out a way to renovate some of the historic school buildings into use for modern educational facilities. Both Braden School and Margaret Martin School are beautiful buildings. It’s probably not economically feasible to renovate them for actual school use, but what an amazing thing that would be if it were possible. Such a plan would certain garner support from a diverse set of Natchez residents.

Regardless of the direction, however, the public needs to understand the costs, advantages and disadvantages of each option.