Being a part of the decision

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Chambers County Board of Education has spent the majority of November gathering community input on the topic of school consolidation.

In late October, the school system released a video explaining the general concept using drone shots, local testimony and music akin to a Hallmark film. It framed school consolidation as not just a good thing to do for the county, but the right thing to do for the well-being of students in the local system.

It was uplifting and made a good point toward consolidation. What the video didn’t do, however, was offer specific information on how consolidation would be implemented, what it would mean for the existing schools or where a new building would even be built to accommodate students from LaFayette and Valley. The 7.5 minute video left all of that to the imaginations of the more than 12,000 people who watched the video and those viewers thoughts were well recorded in the ever-growing comments section.

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The concept was out there though. Thus, to get a better understanding of what the framework would look like for consolidation, or to determine if the idea should be scrapped altogether, the school board worked with consulting firm Cooperative Strategies to put out a survey. The survey dug into the specifics of the project and allowed parents, teachers, alumni and even current students to give their opinion on whether or not consolidation was a good idea.

When the data was collected after the two-week survey period, the school district, development authority and Cooperative Strategies hosted town hall meetings earlier this week to present its findings. Those meetings were a great way to finally shed light on the idea and also offered a platform for the public to give input.

The 23 percent of folks who wanted more information before making a decision were given an opportunity to do that before speaking and even the split amount of people who already had their minds made up could offer an explanation as to why.

Following the vague, somewhat controversial video that was put out that caused some people to feel like the decision was already made, the town halls seemed like an act of goodwill by the BOE.

With the decision being entirely in their hands, the BOE made it a point to get the input of the people it would affect the most.

The survey and town hall meetings were a stepping stone to a final solution, a waypoint on the path to changing what the school system looks like in Chambers County.

Nothing is decided yet and a lot of questions still have to be answered. However, the school board is taking the correct approach, bringing the community together and seeking its input before making such a huge decision.

This is the type of decision that could vastly change the Chambers County School District for years to come and it’s not being taken lightly.