Wednesday, April 27, 2005

School not a blight

How unfortunate that the siting of a new elementary school in Hailey's Woodside area has been reduced to haggling over whether the Blaine County School District has been straightforward in answering questions about the project.

The larger point that's being left behind is just how much of an overarching benefit the school and eight housing units for school staff will be to the area.

Educating children should be the priority concern, not just of parents but all residents who want civil and knowledgeable young people prepared to assume roles in the community. An elementary school close to the student population is especially desirable. Every study we've seen indicates neighborhood schools enhance property values because of the beneficial nature of education.

As for the housing: The Blaine County School District is encountering vexing difficulties in attracting and holding teachers—largely because of the cost of housing. Eight housing units won't go very far, but at least it's a beginning incentive for recruiting a school staff.

The district's first order of business now should be to remove any obstacle—including misunderstandings and lack of communication with residents—and shore up public confidence in its decision to ensure that the school is built.

Model communities embody a lot of elements beyond houses. Schools are as essential as parks, fire stations and other public services to create a desirable quality of life.

Ultimately, Woodside homeowners will find that the school is not a blight, but a blessing.

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