Bond issue not right for community

Published 12:51 am Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Natchez-Adams School District needs better facilities. That is a fact.

All of the district’s buildings were built approximately half a century ago and in their current configurations many have outlasted their useful lives. Most are less than ideal for modern educational needs.

In what is a painful decision, we cannot support the district’s current plan. Voters are asked on Tuesday for $35 million to rebuild the high school and repurpose other school buildings.

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We need new or remodeled facilities , but we don’t believe all options have been fully considered.

To our knowledge the district has taken the advice and guidance of a single consultant and run with it, without adequate public consideration of alternative options or room for thinking outside of the consultant-suggested box.

The district is asking taxpayers for an enormous amount of money and has done so in such a rush that details of what, exactly, the district aims to do have remained nebulous throughout the process.

For such an expensive — and important — project, the details should be crystal clear to all. We need a plan the entire community will support.

If the school district’s plan fails to achieve 60-percent approval on the ballot Tuesday, we hope district leaders will regroup.

In doing so, we think they will realize more work is necessary to devise a plan which meets the facility needs of the district. We hope they will roll up their sleeves and get back to work.

They must not,throw up their collective hands and say, “We tried,” and walk away. Doing so would be a disservice to students and the community.

It is not necessary to improve academics before improving buildings — as some in town suggest. But it is necessary to share a detailed, thought-out building plan first.

That plan must address efficient use of the district’s current assets and resources, acknowledge the community and its tax base are shrinking and that many have little more to give.

With acknowledgement of great need on both sides, school leaders and this community can come together with a deliberate, considered approach to improve our school facilities with a price tag we can afford.