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Let’s get educated

Following events in Boulder City can sometimes feel like riding the wave machine at a water park. Lots of highs and lows. Some of us are just along for the ride. Some are determined to get to the front, pushing and shoving as we go. Then, some of us like standing on the edge and blowing a whistle.

The most recent hubbub over Clark County School District’s proposed plan to move our three kindergarten through eighth grade schools into one building got me thinking about how we respond to change as a community. I watched the announcement make the rounds. Not unexpectedly, I saw our community do the thing it does. We took to keyboards and Facebook groups, flooding the local page with lively discussion, creating chat groups, rallying at school board meetings, and generally forming a strong oppositional front.

Community activism isn’t a bad thing. As an average citizen we have much more power to impact policy change at the local level. Typically, citizens are far less aware of and active in local politics than national, but I think Boulder City is probably an exception to this rule. So, kudos to us as an actively engaged community speaking up on issues that matter.

In terms of this school district proposal, here are some general thoughts. I think that it would be nice to have a new school/schools for our elementary and junior high school students. I think that having one place for pickup/drop-off would simplify the process for parents.

On the other hand, I worry what having one school would mean for teachers and existing administrators, and the dynamics of leadership within a shared space. Additionally, I think traffic would be a nightmare, especially since we can’t get parents to stop hanging out in the drop-off zones forever (It’s literally the worst. Stop and drop people). So maybe you’re thinking, “If we can’t even get our traffic zones in line, how can we possibly tackle the combining schools thing?

The centralized K-8 school model isn’t a new concept though. A co-worker mentioned going to a K-8 school growing up, and really liked it. Education Northwest discussed that some recent studies have shown improvement in academic performance, attendance and discipline within the centralized K-8 model.

I can also see how this is likely a popular option for school districts looking to affordably modernize schools in rural areas, and would argue that making decisions about education based solely on economic benefit is not a sound practice. On questions of education, there isn’t a simple solution. This is especially true because the needs of our community differ from those in Henderson and Las Vegas area schools.

Teachers are likely shaking their collective overworked and underpaid fists at me. I am not suggesting that a combined K-8 is the right solution. My question, several questions actually, are:

Is our first reaction on hearing about such-and-such policy to hit the internet voicing complaints, firing each other into frenzies of righteous indignation; or do we stop to consider that there are multiple possibilities that will probably all be fine and do our research before mobilizing? Are we sure our complaints are based on viable possibilities, or do we dwell on worst-case scenarios? Are we doing the work of asking, “If not this, then what?”

I wonder if we as a community are losing by refusing to research and consider. I will just throw out that we still don’t have a functional pool for our amazing swim team, and I sure hope we don’t lose our caring local mortician because of our inability to imagine a way forward.

We, as a community of engaged citizens, have the responsibility not only to voice concerns but to suspend judgment until we have all the facts and imagine alternative possibilities. Because here’s the bottom line: I’m not worried about our students. In my 15 years as a parent here I’ve seen that, among other things, Boulder City does a very good job of supporting its youth. So if they will be fine regardless, can it really hurt to ride the wave a bit before shutting it down?

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Alycia Calvert is a longtime Boulder City resident. She has lived here with her husband and children for the past 15 years. She will graduate with her Master of Fine Arts in May, and is excited to get more time for writing. She loves hiking, biking, kayaking, supporting Boulder City’s small business community and thinking weird wandering thoughts.

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