It has been said that a camel is a horse designed by committee. Some Cedar Rapids City Council members want an active role on the school district’s plans to close, rebuild or renovate several schools. They argue schools have major implications for neighborhoods, crime, property values and more. Conversely, the school district also would be correct in saying council decisions on those issues have implications on schools. That doesn’t mean school board members should have a seat on the City Council.
Council member Dale Todd has one thing right, “it’s not our role to tell the school district what to do.” The City Council needs to stay informed but know its role. No one is ever happy about closing neighborhood schools where multiple generations have attended. However, when neighborhoods and the world changes around them, school buildings must also adopt. This is not a new concept. For example, the original Washington High School was built at the site of the current downtown public library, not an ideal location for a high school today.
This is painful but necessary process and getting more people involved at this point doesn’t necessarily improve the outcome. Allow experts, our elected school board members and the community members who have stayed committed, to do their jobs without inference from the council.