Nationwide, the trend is towards preserving old school buildings or at least keeping them in the center of town. Young people feel a sense of belonging when they are in a school that has a past; they feel they are in the stream of history, especially when they can actually see the rest of the town’s institutions — the city hall, the square, the library, the jail — when they walk to or from their school. More so than their early studies, this experience instills in children a sense of social responsibility.
Take away all of this — drive the children to the outskirts and make them stare, daily, at the backside of the Super Wal-Mart — and they will sense the ugliness, the barrenness around them; they will feel alienated and betrayed. They will not form an attachment to this town and therefore will be unequipped to do so later in any other town. And some of them will eventually wind up having to discover the jail in a stumbling way, on their own.
Has this concern, and have any of the other obvious ones — the loss that this move would mean to the town square, how this move would degrade property values, the sheer waste of money involved in scrapping Kitty Stone Elementary and building a new school, or whether the wishes of Jacksonville residents are being respected here — been properly discussed in City Council meetings?
Carmine Di Biase