By CELINA MORGAN
Dear Chairwoman Ben-Naim, members of the School Board, and Dr. Steinhaus,
I have three school-aged children and am sincerely concerned with the board’s plans to develop housing on North Mesa, and most presently with the vote to approve the MOA.
This land is not well suited as a development opportunity for the many reasons noted by the community at large: traffic, infrastructure, evacuation, lack of revenue streams, and more. But I’d rather depict the image of what this land represents, which is the opportunity for our children, for the school’s students.
Many of our schools are bursting at the seams. We have families moving into town with school-aged children, and are promised more to come. This land represents an opportunity to build a new school wing that brings the sixth-grade to LAMS. A place where fledgling hawks can learn how to become middle school students.
LAPS could develop a sixth-grade academy to rival the success of the Topper Freshman Academy, because, to be honest, it was harder for my students to become middle school students than for them to become high school students.
This land could continue to support the cross-country teams which would be expanded to serve the sixth graders as well as the eighty seventh and eighth graders that already run every Autumn. As mentioned in another letter, this land could serve as an opportunity to expand trades and skills education because these are essential and lucrative careers that our students need to have the opportunity to pursue.
I hear the board and understand that we need housing to encourage teachers to come and to stay. We have some of the best teachers here in our district and every one of them matters. If the school genuinely wants to provide housing for teachers, then the school board would be better off considering how to provide rentals, on a smaller scale, that will not involve the county council, or the housing needs of the county at large.
But that’s not what the school board is drafting and voting on tonight with the county in the current MOA. I’ve read the MOA (on pages 22-25 of the final packet), and the language almost undoubtedly puts the priority of the county’s housing problems before the needs for the school, whether that be for students, for revenue, or for teacher housing. It may be said that there is nothing binding in the MOA.
However, I don’t believe this is entirely true. The school board may not be legally bound to build a development in the MOA language, however the single-minded pursuit of working with the county council, to serve the county’s housing needs, and the $475 thousand being spent in this pursuit, does bind the vision of the school board. Besides, we all know that we don’t go shopping for vehicles, or homes, or other large purchases without knowing what needs we must to satisfy in that purchase.
So far, I’ve heard many competing needs mentioned in your meetings with no reconciliation as to real priority. The only real priority of school land and the school board is to both present and future students. Let’s be clear on that point.
Please table the approval of the MOA, and reconsider the priorities of the board, and how this land will most appropriately be used to make our students the priority. Because once this land is gone, our school has no more land that hasn’t already been developed.