As a parent of a Skyline Middle School 6th grader, I am writing to support the immediate — not delayed — funding of a second high school.
My wife and I both grew up in a relatively small town on the central coast of California. Population of our town while we were growing up hovered between 25,000 – 35,000 residents (when surrounding county residents that fed into the school district were included — yes, about HALF the size of Harrisonburg). And we had TWO high schools. In fact, my father was recruited as an administrative dean of students for the newly opened high school when I was just 5 years old. So I know what it’s like to move into and live in a small community and enjoy the benefits of a high school that WASN’T overcrowded. A school where students could choose to participate in any number of clubs and activities because there was room for them, there were advisors, and there was opportunity to try and to succeed… because there was SPACE.
Even when California’s Proposition 13 was enacted and the source of school funding was drastically altered across the state, our two-high-school community endured. And I believe students have always benefitted from smaller class sizes, multiple sports teams (that competed against each other in friendly cross town rivalries), thriving arts programs, industrial arts, agriculture, business classes —you name it, BOTH schools had it. And I got a good education. Correction, a GREAT education… and one free of teaching to state mandated SOL tests (but I digress).
And now I want the same for my son and his classmates here in Harrisonburg. I know of the challenges faced by HHS food service simply to schedule, feed and seat as many students as they currently serve daily at HHS. I see the trailers parked on the HHS campus and wonder if my son will be relegated to those classrooms. I wonder how he and his needs won’t be further pushed to the side while the desires of the “no tax increase ever” local business crowd try to influence this decision based on short-term economic scare tactics.
As a self-employed small business owner myself, I don’t buy those false arguments. One can look to the “never tax” states of Kansas and Missouri to see what happens when education funding gets held back by powerful no-tax lobbies: infrastructure crumbles, teachers move away, test scores plummet and communities LOSE jobs. I don’t want that for Harrisonburg and I don’t believe you do, either.
The time to act is now. Vote ‘YES’ on January 23rd so we can open HHS2 in 2021 and be ready to support both of our high schools!