The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines consolidate (the root of consolidation) in many ways, but my favorite is “to make firm or secure”.
When I hear talk in Nicholas County of consolidating our schools, I think about the money they save, the opportunity for new adventures for teachers who will be forced to endure different career paths, and the harsh reality the community will be teaching the students at the new, consolidated school.
I believe there is nothing more firm or secure than uprooting educators from jobs they have held for years, tossing the NCBOE’s money into an idea that numerous educators and researchers have proven hinder educational growth, and the truth the system will be teaching students about what they should expect in life. The possibilities for change are endless, and today we are going to explore the growth that is present in the new plan.
Perhaps the biggest pro of consolidation is the money saved within the county by putting all high school students into one, unified building and classroom structure. First of all, think of the amount of money spent at Richwood High School alone. RHS is one of 2 public high schools in the county that have a football team, basketball teams for girls and boys, an award winning band, academic clubs, among many more opportunities for students.
But, with opportunities comes great financial responsibility. You may enjoy seeing your son or daughter start on their sports team, but that is just another arena being powered by the NCBOE (Nicholas County Board of Education).
The academic clubs that go on to states, regionals, or travel to compete? To me that is a glaring bill of transportation costs, food expenses, and amenities — the Holiday Inn Express can’t be that affordable! As for the band, they take extravagant trips to different areas of the world exposing their small town students to new opportunities. That cannot be cheap for the taxpayers dollar, and well rounded music education is a way of the past.
According to Joshua Bolkan’s feature on the Journal, Brian Depew (former director at the Center of Foreign Affairs) “noted factors [of consolidation] such as ‘increased transportation costs, promised savings in administration often don’t materialize, and then you often times have increased facilities costs as well if you build a new facility as part of a consolidated district.'”
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The second most glaring benefit of consolidation would be the broadening horizons of career paths we would be opening up to the educators who will be without a job if the two schools became one. I find that many individuals gain an education in a career path only to not know they may truly enjoy a totally different area of labor. In fact, according to Ahnna Robaton’s article on CBS News, 51 percent of people aren’t engaged at work, and 16 percent are actively disengaged.
Sure, our educators love their jobs and our students are learning from them, but what if someone out there is better at the job? Perhaps we should interview for the best candidates of educator positions so we can find someone who is happy, engaged, and possibly even costs less money per hour.
As for our educators, McDonald’s is always hiring, and Sheetz starts you out at up to 14 dollars an hour. Perhaps a physical education teacher would strongly enjoy working outdoors doing hard labor for the WVDOH, or they may find they enjoy sitting behind a desk checking in patients at the local emergency room.
Mr. Greg James, the Richwood High School band director, might like his current position that he has been in for well over 20 years, but how do we know he wouldn’t like a position at Walmart? He might enjoy a solid 8 or more hours a day of ringing up groceries, helping in the fitting rooms, or working the customer service desk. Until the opportunities are explored, how can we ever be sure that we have our educators in the best positions for them to peak at life.
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Most importantly, consolidating our high schools will teach students the reality of the world. Currently, our education system is intimate, accommodating, and focused on the best education for the children. In the real world, children need to know they aren’t top dog. They are used to smaller classrooms, aid when they are struggling, and the comfort in knowing if they ask for help they can get it somehow.
They need to learn they are one among many, not someone to be focused on. Their education is the same as every other education in the country. Smaller classrooms are teaching children that they can reach out for help when they are struggling, but we should be teaching them to suck it up and figure it out on their own. Life is hard, and they have to get over it. Also, why are we focused on assuring students achieve the best education possible? In college, everyone knows “C’s get degrees”.
I know what you’re thinking, “education should be our number one concern”, but money makes the world go round. Financially feasible solutions should be all we are worried about. Sure, a well educated local could mean economic growth within our community after college. But I say we focus on the here and now, not what the future could hold.
According to the West Virginia State Auditor, Richwood couldn’t handle a new school anyway. One extra flush and all the water lines might burst. Why do you think they only hold church on certain days? You can’t run that much water every day of the week in a town like Richwood, even if that very thing did happen for years before the flood.
In conclusion, I believe we should stop fighting for our future and just accept the monetary contributions a lifetime of adjusting can have on us right this very second. Besides, a good education isn’t everything, right?