This newspaper is in the business of conversations. We initiate them. We participate in them. We encourage them. We believe that the more our community is engaged in healthy conversation and debate, the more likely we are to find solutions to the challenges we face.
That’s why we are enthusiastically embracing Tuesday’s community meeting to discuss the pros and cons of administratively consolidating the two school districts in Las Vegas. For too long, this has been an issue that our community has been reluctant to talk about. We think it’s a subject that’s long overdue for a constructive discussion.
We’re not alone in this belief. In all, 33 businesses, organizations and individuals have signed on as sponsors of the meeting — and more would surely have signed up if the organizers of this event had been able to get to them.
Understand that these sponsors didn’t sign on as “for” or “against” consolidation per se. Instead, they are simply in favor of a conversation that explores all aspects, both good and bad, to this complicated issue. Obviously, people will speak up with their own viewpoints, resulting in some debate, and that’s fine — as long as the talk is respectful and designed to be constructive rather than destructive. Las Vegas needs an honest exchange of thoughts and ideas to ascertain what is best for the educational institutions in Las Vegas.
And, really, there lies the bottom line: It’s all about education. It’s about what’s best for the kids who attend our schools on the west and east sides of town, in the Valley and at Sapello. Their future is in our hands, so we must consider wisely everything that impacts their education:
• We need to consider the financial ramifications of consolidation because the more money we can put into the classroom, the better. Would consolidation help or hurt this objective?
• We must think about how it would impact our academic and extracurricular programs. Would it enhance or weaken them?
• We should examine whether food services, transportation services and facility maintenance and expansion would be made better or worse through administrative consolidation. These matters directly relate to the atmosphere of learning in which we place our children.
• And we need to think about the psychological impact that unification would have on the community as a whole. Do we benefit or are we hurt by the separation of our school districts? Does this encourage or discourage our young people to stay in Las Vegas after they complete their education? Does it increase or decrease a sense of opportunity in town?
If you think that our children are getting the best education we can give them, then by all means, stay at home on Tuesday evening. But if you see room for improvement, then we encourage you to join in on the conversation. Regardless of how you feel about consolidation, be a part of the discussion.
Las Vegas is the only city in New Mexico with two separate school districts, so consolidation is a question that won’t go away — and we might as well face it head-on. If you conclude that it’s not in our children’s best interest to unite the districts, then you need to be able to explain why. And if you decide that it’s best to consolidate, then help move the process forward. Wishing away the issue and refusing to consider it will only reinforce the notion that Las Vegas isn’t willing to take on the tough issues — and that, more than anything else, just isn’t right.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Kennedy Hall on the Highlands campus. We hope to converse with you there.