• 68°

School debate must be about construction

When discussing the future of the Ironton City School facilities, many people have been quick to draw a line in the sand. Instead, the community should be helping each other build a sand castle that will last for generations of children.

School officials, with the help of Ohio School Facilities Commission leaders and architects, hosted a public forum Tuesday to allow the issue to be discussed openly. Though some have said it was informative and productive, many people said they walked away with their beliefs only reinforced.

The debate centers on historic Ironton High School and whether or not it should be demolished or renovated. Both sides believe they are right and seem unwilling to relent at all. This approach will not benefit the youth of Ironton and has begun to polarize the community.

Egos, personalities and agendas should be tossed aside and the two factions should work on finding a middle ground or at the very least a way to agree to disagree. Voters will be asked to pay for either plan when they go to the polls in November and will have to support the levy for nearly 30 years.

Making the right decision may be one of the most important tasks local voters have faced in a long time.

The meeting did serve to clear up many misconceptions about the process including the cost and the time frame in which a bond levy must be passed before Ironton potentially would lose the funding. This decision must be based on what is best for the youth and not money or time.

As proposed, to build all new facilities would cost $41.7 million with local taxpayers picking up $11.2 million of that. The cost to a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would be $267.66 annually.

If plans were made to renovate the high school, the total project would cost $50,247,542, with taxpayers chipping in more than $17 million. For that same property owner, this plan would cost approximately $350 a year, exactly $83 more than the other version.

As far as a time constraint, state leaders were clear that Ironton has four chances to pass a levy in the next year - a primary election, a general election and two special elections. The money may still even be available if this window of opportunity is missed.

So many of the reasons both for and against the proposed plan have been dispelled. The heart of the matter remains: What will best serve the children?

We still haven't heard anyone on either side answer that question with certainty.