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Consolidation is not a bad thing

By Staff
Scot Beard
Citizens in neighboring Lawrence County have fought a battle against consolidation for the past few months. It was a battle they lost over the weekend when a federal judge approved plans to merge the county's high schools.
Many of the plan's opponents claimed strong ties to the various communities as a reason to end consolidation talks. Others said the move would only further segregate the schools.
The two schools making the biggest fuss, Hazlewood and R.A. Hubbard, are bitter rivals. It makes since they would not want to combine – which is what the plan calls for.
While I do not have a problem with civic pride or rooting for the local high school team, I do have a problem with people using these as an excuse to get in the way of a good education.
The facts are simple.
Schools get a certain amount of money from the state to educate the children – free of charge – living nearby.
Lawrence County, which has a population of 34,166 according to a 2008 U.S. Census estimate, currently has seven high schools – East Lawrence, Hatton, Hazlewood, Lawrence County, Mount Hope, R.A. Hubbard and Speake.
The consolidation plan would eliminate Hazlewood, Mount Hope and Speake as high schools – the facilities would remain open as K-8 schools.
Despite what the people who root for the athletic teams at Hazlewood and R.A. Hubbard think, this move is what is best for the students.
After all, that is what schools are in business for – academics, not athletics.
If my child were in one of the schools being eliminated, I would be happy. It would create more money for my child's school, which means better facilities.
Say, for example, the school system has $200,000 to spend for improvements to science labs. I would much rather have the money split between four schools than seven to provide better facilities for my child to use.
Would you rather your child have access to a lab capable of being used for chemistry, biology and physics experiments, or would you prefer the kid only have the option of one or two of those classes because the school cannot afford rooms, textbooks and equipment for the other classes?
Yes, it will be the end of an era at the three high schools that are being eliminated. It may also be the beginning of a new era in which a kid that has access to new experiences might one day find the cure for cancer because a high school chemistry lab sparked his or her interest in research.
Personally, I think that possibility far outweighs the idea of keeping schools the way they are so a football rivalry can continue.

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