Editorial: Not so simple in Jacksonville — Council’s unexpected vote on school smacks of small-town bumbling
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 20, 2014 | 3128 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Kitty Stone Elementary teacher leaves the school at the end of the day. The city is looking into building a new school.  (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
A Kitty Stone Elementary teacher leaves the school at the end of the day. The city is looking into building a new school. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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The Jacksonville City Council swears subterfuge wasn’t in play Wednesday when it unexpectedly voted to give the Board of Education the go-ahead on building a new elementary school.

That’s good, because now the council can move on to the next matter at hand — repairing the public’s trust in that elected body.

By public, we mean those Jacksonville residents who ardently believe closing Kitty Stone Elementary School and building a new school on George Douthit Drive is a foolish idea. Whether they are a large group or merely a small-but-vocal minority is unclear. Either way, those who oppose the Douthit location are bound to believe the council acted hurriedly in hopes of (a.) voting without further opposition in its chambers and (b.) putting the matter to bed, finally.

Well, it’s not that simple.

Yes, the board does get to move forward with building a new school, a move we support — and a move that was inevitable, regardless of when the council decided to act. But the devilish details of Wednesday’s vote won’t be forgotten soon by those who wished Kitty Stone would remain at its present location.

The worst point: Jon Paul Campbell, superintendent of Jacksonville schools, didn’t know the council was going to vote Wednesday on the school issue. So much for communication, especially since Campbell is on record as being happy with the council’s approval. Would a phone call beforehand have been too much to ask?

For what it’s worth, give Council President Mark Jones a sliver of credit for not shying away from the obvious. “I know it’s going to look bad and I’ll take the heat for that,” he told The Star, “but it was not anything planned to circumvent.”

We tend to believe Jones, but it’s naive to think the Douthit Drive naysayers will be so forgiving. The same goes for other Jacksonville residents who expect their elected leaders to steer clear of such small-town bumblings. Even if you have no dog in the fight and could not care less where the city builds its elementary school, Wednesday’s timing certainly looks bad for the Jacksonville council.
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