1. It’s about the students. Every board decision, every hire, every dollar spent must keep in focus the one really big goal — providing Anniston public school students with a top-notch education, one that prepares them for success. The school board isn’t an economic development body or a debating society. Its sole job is producing graduates ready to tackle the world.
2. Admit that’s there’s work to be done on item No.1, lots of work. So, make a plan and get moving. Now. Based on the latest figures available, Anniston High’s graduation rate is 65 percent. That ranks it near the very bottom of Alabama’s 500 high schools. Each dropout is another soul who is squandering his or her chance for a prosperous life. Said differently, each dropout is a drag on the city’s already weakened economy, the odds say.
3. Get smaller. Anniston has more schools than the state says a system its size needs. That means that Anniston taxpayers are picking up the extra expenses to keep those schools open. Yet, reducing the number of facilities is something this school board — like so many of its predecessors — can’t agree on in spite of the obvious cost-savings involved.
4. Build the public’s trust by spending taxpayer dollars wisely. The estimates for constructing a new middle school have ranged from $9 million to $16 million. That’s a lot of money when Anniston middle school students could be accommodated at the existing Anniston High facility; something similar is already done at schools across the county. Each dollar saved is one that can be applied to educating students.
5. Mind your manners, please. In a meeting last week, Donna Ross, the school board president, was repeatedly cut off in mid-sentence by fellow board member William Hutchings. Ross deserved the apology she later received from Hutchings. Better still, would have been if this sort of behavior hadn’t happened in the first place.
The board has its work cut out for it. The issues it must wade through are often contentious and can lead to a spirited back-and-forth. However, discussions must lead to actions, not more arguments or insults or, worst of all, inaction.