As Christmas decorations have come down, an abundance of purple “Save our middle school” signs have sprouted up. My question is whether those who display the signs mean what they say. Do they want to save the Pittsburg middle school building, or do they want to defeat a bond election?
The bond issue calls for demolishing the 1920 section, which was PHS for sixty years. Some want to save the building out of nostalgia—the iconic twin towers on north Broadway evoke pride. Others question the wisdom of destroying a structurally sound building that has stood for ninety-five years. They wonder about life expectancy of new structures. (Joplin is replacing their 1985 public library.)
On Wednesday USD 250 offered potential voters the opportunity to view the old building and to ask questions. The auditorium contains fallen ceiling tiles, broken seats, and a dangerously low balcony railing. Steps into classrooms are handicap inaccessible. Masonry walls can’t transmit computer Wi-Fi, so each classroom would require its own router. Consequently, the original building has hardly been used since 2004. On the other hand, an architect stated that the unused square footage was greater than that needed for the expansion. “The building is over-sized,” he stated.
Substantial financial resources would be required for the school district to return the building to usable condition. Those who display the signs, and we viewers, should ask ourselves whether we are willing to support such an effort. If not, the signs should say simply, “Vote ‘no’ on education.”
I went to pubic schools in Arkansas. My father was a factory worker.
Arkansas was one of the poorer states back then, but the people of the state believed in education and supported the schools. My elementary school included teachers for art, music, and PE, which some schools in Kansas don't even have at present. I graduated from a public high school. After a detour for the Korean War, I earned degrees from two public universities.
My career was mostly in education. I taught at two universities and retired from Pitt State as Professor Emeritus.
Without public education I, like my father, might well have been a factory worker for the rest of my life.
I toured the Middle School Wednesday night, and it was an eye-opening experience. The Pittsburg schools really need the upgrading that is spelled out in the report of the citizens committee and the school board. Education is extremely important for young people to get ahead.
That is why I will vote for the school bond proposal.
Yes, it will cost me some money in taxes. I won't complain. I will be happy to pay those taxes. I feel I owe them, to actually "pay back" what public schools have done for me.
I don't have any kin in Pittsburg schools but want the kids in our town, one of the poorest parts of the state, to get the best start in life they can.
Please vote "Yes" on the school bond proposal.
Robert J. Roberts