In today’s newspaper details of the single high school concept in Decatur were revealed. I had heard rumors and suggestions of this before but this is the first detailed pitch we’ve been presented with. The Decatur Public School Board has suggested merging Decatur’s two remaining high schools, MacArthur and Eisenhower, into one campus. A sales tax is being proposed to fund the project – how much of an increase is needed is yet to be determined. The proposed location is in Decatur’s “central core” near the Wabash Crossing development.
There’s a lot of pros and cons to such a plan:
- A state-of-the-art building that could provide more educational opportunities in different subject areas.
- Inner city revitalization – This is an area of town that needs redevelopment.
- Community Pride – One thing that I’ve always noticed about small towns is the commitment and pride they feel for their schools. If you attend a sporting event in a small community, practically the whole town is there cheering on the kids. Decatur is divided in its’ loyalties and I think since Stephen Decatur High School closed, a lot of the pride has diminished for a lot of people – closing Stephen Decatur was a real kick in the gut to all us Stephen Decatur graduates who are now parents and grandparents living in Decatur! It feels traitorous to go to Eisenhower or MacArthur and cheer on the enemy! 😉 I say name the school Stephen Decatur High School and you got a winner!
- College Prep – I don’t know if this is part of the plan but I’d love to see more college prep classes and even classes that count towards college be made available; possibly a deal with Richland Community College and Millikin University could get kids on the right path towards college in their Junior and Senior years. If a kid could graduate with a high school diploma, and a considerable amount of transferable college credits, that would be a great incentive for them to continue their education.
- Cost – Will Decatur residents be willing to pay a higher sales tax in a weakening economy?
- Eisenhower and MacArthur’s buildings would be vacant. What would we do with those buildings? Are they marketable?
- School Size – As a parent of a 5th grader, I would assume my daughter (and son) would be attending this high school, if it is built, and I’m concerned of the size of the school. Would it be overwhelming and a place where kids feel totally lost?
These are just some initial thought floating around in my brain after reading today’s article. I’m sure other pros and cons will be brought up in the community over the next several months!
Here’s a link to the Herald & Review article if you haven’t read it.