Re “A new school in Jacksonville will benefit everyone” (Speak Out, Aug. 24):
Speak Out writer John Risse is totally wrong in asserting that “1,700 students are currently ‘crammed’ into the Kitty Stone Elementary School building they are now in.” In fact, there are 900 students at Kitty Stone and 800 at the high school campus.
At issue is whether Jacksonville will have all 1,700 at one location in the southwesternmost corner of town and zero students anywhere else, or whether there will continue to be a public school near the town center, close to businesses on the square and neighborhoods in the central and northern sections of the city that could hope to attract young professional families with children. And, will there be traffic problems twice a day at the intersection of George Douthit Drive and Pelham Road if all 1,700 are at the high school site?
Risse also accused me of trashing local leaders. Not at all. I strongly supported Mike Poe’s re-election to the Board of Education because he has consistently advocated having a middle school at the Kitty Stone site. I am delighted with his victory. Of the five candidates for the board, four spoke out in support of or being open to keeping a school at the Kitty Stone property, including Steve Smith, who was also re-elected. Only George Areno, who received by far the fewest votes of any of the five candidates, did not advocate for a school at the Kitty Stone site. He wants City Hall moved there.
All I seek is a compromise. Go ahead and build a new school, middle or elementary, across from the high school, but let’s keep one school at the Kitty Stone site, even if it’s only 400 students, and refurbish City Hall at its current location.
We might save money by rebuilding a middle school at the Kitty Stone property as opposed to the high school site. The architect Walter McKee publicly recommended building a new elementary school across from the high school and repurposing the existing campus at Kitty Stone for a middle school. It should be a no-brainer.