EDITORIAL | School board should stay focused on education

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017 10:18am
  • Opinion

The Langley Middle School survey results are in, and the ideas are great.

We love the concept of a community center, and an arts district is cool too. But these all sound like very long-term arrangements and we have serious reservations about school district’s becoming permanent landlords. Their job is to educate, not manage lease agreements and certainly not to guide the fate or development of key pieces of property.

The school board voted to close Langley Middle School in January after a comprehensive outreach process. The board and district leaders did consider selling the middle school property but rejected the idea for reasons ranging from constituent wishes to financial considerations; they say the one-time revenue gain isn’t worth losing such a valuable piece of real estate when replacing the property later on would cost taxpayers much more.

These are all valid considerations in our eyes, but only if the school district really has plans to reopen the school sometime in the future. That doesn’t seem to be the case when it’s entertaining long-term uses of the facility.

State law does allow school districts to rent out unused property, but it can’t be altered in a way that wouldn’t allow the district to reopen the facility for educational purposes. This exemption is clearly intended to give school districts leeway when long-term plans are uncertain, not function as a loophole for shepherding development or generating revenue.

With so much school district property now under lease — land and buildings are also rented in Bayview and at the primary school — the school board should step back and reconsider its role as educators. The ideas for LMS are all stellar, but if the district isn’t really planning to reopen the school sometime in the near future then it should step out of the way, allow administrators to focus on education and let another and more appropriate entity guide the middle school property’s future.

More in Opinion

Letter: Life isn’t free; it’s time for community to teach that

Editor, Suppose your car was giving you trouble. You put it in… Continue reading

Commissioners were right to join opioid lawsuit

Pharmaceutical companies continue to make astonishing amounts of money selling pills that… Continue reading

Letter: Quoting Scripture proves nothing about immigration

Editor, Re: Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions quoting the Bible to support separating… Continue reading

Sound Off: Proposed Island Transit fares don’t add up

As a local leader, I work to improve regional mobility in support… Continue reading

Letter: Clinton beach AccessMats make beach accessible for everyone

Editor, Now that the winter weather is past, Island Beach Access has… Continue reading

County planning commission’s remarks were shameful

Homeless people like to live in the woods and should just stay… Continue reading

Letter: Trump’s immigration policy violates human rights

Editor, Trump’s new immigration policy is even worse than previously thought. Since… Continue reading

Letter: Island Transit fares should do no harm, minimize impact

Editor, Tom Walker, in a letter to the editor in the June… Continue reading

Chief Marks can no longer lead the department

Langley Police Chief David Marks has lost the ability to effectively lead… Continue reading

Letter: America should treat immigrants and children humanely

Editor, Trump’s immigration policy is treating it as a criminal problem in… Continue reading

Letter: Rather than berate newspaper staff, why not educate others?

Editor, In reply to Captn Blynd: I was never even aware of… Continue reading

Road will keep island traversable if highway is blocked

Island County commissioners’ decision to spend $4 million to build a short… Continue reading