Parents have a voice and it's time to use it

The public must tune in tohelp resolve Bluffton school space issues

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 9, 2013 

Bluffton parents must speak up on potential school attendance zone changes.

On Thursday, a community committee that will make recommendations for dealing with growing enrollment will meet for the first time. The meeting -- at 6 p.m. at Bluffton Middle School -- is open to the public.

Parents need to pay attention -- and say something now -- because we know from experience that they certainly will cry out after changes are made.

Taxpayers in general also need to be alert. Building more schools should not be the answer if existing buildings are under-utilized. That option should include shifting students into schools outside the Bluffton attendance area if warranted.

The immediate problem is in the two middle schools. Two years ago, they were reconfigured to remove ninth graders from overcrowded Bluffton High School. One middle school now has grades six and seven, and the other has grades eight and nine. The change was made with the expectation that it would work for only two years. Now the middle schools cannot hold more students, and the anticipated changes must be made.

Already, one forum on the situation attracted about 250 parents and teachers. School Improvement Councils have discussed it. And the community committee created by the Beaufort County Board of Education will begin this week formulating a suggested short-term solution due by March and a long-term solution due by May. The committee is made up of all eight Bluffton-area principals, two School Improvement Council members from each school, a Bluffton High student and additional community members appointed by the school board.

The final decision rests with the school board, but this approach is a smart way to prepare the community for change, hear good ideas and reduce the emotional reaction to attendance zone changes.

Parents must understand that not everyone can get what he or she wants. They have to recognize that the school board has a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers countywide.

But parents have been given a voice in the matter, and now is the time to use it.

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