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The Shelby County School Board is doing the right thing by taking another look at its rollout plans for its new campus West of Shelbyville.
The design of the schools and the long-range concept are excellent. The green facilities will be an example for all future construction in the county.
But the plan of how to populate these centers to help overcrowding at the existing schools and the timetable set for that are suspect, and the board and Superintendent James Neihof are appropriately stopping for a much-needed new and objective view.
There is an urgency to building the first of these schools to move students from some combination of the seventh-through-ninth grades into it.
Shelby County High School and East and West Middle Schools are more than crowded, and some or all of those students would be the prime to relocate.
The Transitional Committee appointed by the school board is charged with plotting the steps to get from the existing two middle schools and a high school to the campus of the future. Do you start with a new middle school, a so-called freshman academy for all parts of the county or go ahead and build a high school and start to roll up its population from ninth grade? These could be among the questions.
Yes, there are several options, and each is fraught with complex problems.
Bus routes, crowded roads and impossibly taxed schedules at home are just a few. If you add new buses, you add expense. And taxpayers already are picking up a huge tab.
When the school board hatched its existing plan, it appropriately took an exceptionally long view of need, and decisions made under the former administration of Elaine Farris are certainly open to second-guessing.
There were heated debates, tugs of emotional war and disagreement from many principals during that process, but unfortunately not every aspect can be reviewed now.
The land has been bought, the groundwork laid and the architects paid. Progress can’t and should not be stopped.
But the Transitional Committee is a logical idea to ensure that decisions made today revisit the appropriate issues and make those of the future better informed by current information and updated forecasts of population growth.
We as taxpayers and parents have to be certain that what we are buying and planning is exactly what we need and will serve us well in both the near and long term. We can’t allow anything else to happen.
We elect the board, which employs Mr. Neihof and his staff, and we must require all to make smart decisions. And the Transitional Committee is a smart decision.
Let’s keep machinery moving to get the campuses built, but let’s also keep our fingers on the pause button before making any other official commitment to which we all will be wed.