May 14, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 113

Schools should consider consolidation

To the Editor:

I recently read an advertisement that said, “Investors staying the course are using a broken compass.”

The ad reminded me of the Bessemer Area Schools bond proposal. Spending $7 million to repair school buildings that have been obsolete for decades doesn’t seem like a wise investment.

In response to the special election, our school board should get its bearings and conduct a comprehensive education survey of Bessemer area residents. Part of that survey should ask whether the time has come for consolidation with our neighbors in Wakefield and Marenisco. Our neighbors in Wakefield and Marenisco might do the same.

One survey question could be whether $7 million should be invested as Bessemer’s stake in a new, consolidated school.

A school built in the 21st century will bring our facilities up to 21st century standards. No lead, no asbestos, no gas–guzzling furnaces, no drafty windows. In other words, a safe, energy–efficient and productive educational environment for teachers and students.

If the results of a survey clearly support an investment in consolidation, our school board will have transparent evidence of what the majority will support, even if there are objections from a noisy minority.

I don’t buy the argument that we have a great school. The status quo is not the best we can do. Let me offer one example. Small classes in our district mean we aren’t offering basics like physics to high school students preparing for college.

The reality is that school consolidation works. Education studies prove beyond any doubt that consolidation schools improve curriculum, improve athletics and improve extracurricular activities. When you consider businesses consolidate all the time to expand services and improve their product, it makes sense for corporations like public school districts to do so.

The politics may be noisy and challenging, but the current direction is not the best we can do. For reasons too numerous to detail here, the best way to educate our young people and improve our Gogebic Range community is by consolidating our schools.

Michael Korpela

Bessemer