Friday, October 06, 2017

EDITORIAL >> School plans progressing

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board approved plans this week to build a new middle school at the current site of the high school.

It’s another big step to remake the community’s schools.

Already in the works for the same site is a new elementary school.

Where a dilapidated school building that looks worse than your average parking garage once stood, a new middle school and elementary school will rise as a modern campus complex.

When the new $66 million high school opens downtown off Main Street and Hwy. 67/167 in 2019, plans are in place to immediately bulldoze the old high school and begin construction of the new middle school and elementary.

It turns out it’s cheaper to build a new middle school than to remodel the current one, which is in the old North Pulaski High School building, because of the state’s school-construction payment scheme.

JNPSD officials were told the state’s generosity with its construction aid may be cut drastically soon, so it’s best to move forward quickly on all building plans.

The state aid that Jacksonville has been quick to secure is what’s helped build a string of new schools in Cabot, which many consider to be its greatest community asset, and helped build thousands of new rooftops as a result.

Jacksonville is hoping for much of the same effect. Already, plans are moving ahead for a new high school, a new middle school and four new elementary schools.

That’s a ton of progress for a city that’s seen no new schools in more than 40 years. The split from the Pulaski County Special School District is paying off fast.

The school board should stay focused on academics and facilities and avoid strife at all costs. Petty disputes led to the decline of PCSSD, and students and communities paid the price.