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Commit to a positive process

It’s easy to be against. It requires effort to be for.

Such is the case with the situation concerning School District 50 JT buildings and their future.

A wave of opposition broke last year when the district put forth a $49 million bond proposal. The wave swamped proponents and their plans; the issue went down to a resounding defeat with 74 percent voting against. The taxpayers of Archuleta County were not willing to take on the burden of constructing new buildings on a proposed campus on South 8th Street.

To be fair: the voices sounding the opposition were not the only factors in the issue’s defeat. The proposal itself was not well conceived or well timed. The group assembled to push the proposal was not up to snuff when compared with the local group that prompted a successful bond issue leading to construction of a new high school in the ’90s. The community was caught in the whirlpool of the economic downturn, and it was not the time to advance the notion that debt for new buildings was a keen idea.

That said, some of the opposition was uncivil, vain and all-knowing. A great deal of chatter smacked of “expert” opinion. Numerous suggestions were made regarding the flawed nature of the notion that new buildings were necessary, that existing buildings were substandard. The idea factory was open full-time.

The factory has, apparently, shut its doors.

Where were these folks last week?

Where were the opponents to the bond issue, those with the insights, all the great ideas?

After the vote to deny the bond issue and following substantial facility repairs in the off season, the school district has embarked on an assessment of buildings and a project to determine the future of district properties and infrastructure.

Last week, the district invited interested persons to a public meeting, at which time those in attendance were to be provided with information about the project and asked to volunteer in some capacity, to join one of the work groups that would be formed.

Four work groups were envisioned — one dealing with the technological infrastructure in the district and the use of technology for instructional purposes. A second group would assess the state of existing facilities and determine their safety and adequacy as learning environments. A third group would consider options for improving existing learning spaces, including possible remodeling and renovation projects. The final group would consider traffic, access and security at district facilities.

Pagosa resident Bob Lynch, a management consultant, volunteered to help facilitate the project, assisting with project frameworks for each group and guiding the use of the talents of group members.

If members show up.

Attendance at last week’s initial meeting was limited, with a majority of attendees having ties to the district.

With but one exception, the people who knew so much during the fight against the bond issue were not on scene, not there to lend their expertise. Not there to assume responsibility regarding the future of public education in Archuleta County.

Also absent: parents — especially of young students in the district. If any group should provide input, it is this one. The future of the district is a big part of their children’s future.

It is time to step up, this time to engage in positive and civil discourse about an important project. Group meetings will be scheduled and volunteers who care about the education of Pagosa’s children are vital to the process. If you have the skills, the knowledge and the need, contact Bob Lynch at rlynch1043@gmail.com or (970) 749-4957.

Karl Isberg

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