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Letter: Board needs to end partisanship, work together, she says

TO THE EDITOR: When I learned about my daughter's school overcrowding, I began with research: state enrollment records, building capacities, birth statistics, spreadsheets, projections.

What I found alarmed me: not only is the elementary school frighteningly overcrowded--classes in closets/hallways, lunch at 10:20 a.m., kids climbing over chairs to exit--but the middle school will join them in six years. In nine years, the high school will scramble to find lunch, gym and music space. Add recent births, and it's a big problem.

The good news: a train filled with eager-to-learn kids has arrived in Prescott. The challenge: we need places for them, pronto.

After attending a board meeting, my concern shifted to the board's ability to handle this blessing. Parent concerns were ignored and a tax debate dominated the meetings. A newcomer to local politics, this struck me as completely wrong. Don't tax debates belong in a different place--like, the city council? Shouldn't a school board be non-partisan? Why wasn't the discussion focused on solving the enrollment crisis?

By engaging in a tax debate, board members have put on blinders, seeing only their side: "No taxes, therefore there's no problem" or "Only taxes will solve the problem." Prescott's many failed referendums show locals feel overtaxed; yet clearly, we need more school space badly. Is there no solution?

Phase two of my research: creative overcrowding solutions. Contrary to my earlier research, what I found gave me great hope. Many non-tax options exist and have been implemented at other schools. The big question now is: will partisanship dominate the school board election, and board function post-election, or will something better emerge? The debate's not "taxes/no-taxes," it's "which solution works." Board members must go beyond partisanship, be creative, work together and choose wisely.

For our children's sake, I hope we elect people with these abilities.