By Roy Dieck
I have had an opinion on the Mattoon school for a long time, and it will not change regardless of the outcome of [last week’s] meeting (hearing) or future meetings.
The long range plan of the Board was, and still is, to close all the outlying schools and move the students into the City of Antigo. Three referendums to accomplish this have failed – the last by a wide margin. The petitioners who have children going to Crestwood and are opposed to the detachment of Mattoon because they like children in Crestwood are in for a big surprise.
We were told this consolidation was to solve fiscal problems. Closing the outlying schools and building a mega school would be the solution to those problems. That promotion was in error and few believed it. The votes were the evidence.
We were told at each referendum [that] this was “for the kids.” That was not true then and it is still not true today. If this was truly “for the kids” we would not be meeting for detachment.
Students from the Mattoon Area were to be bussed to the City of Antigo and four- and five-year old children would spend up to three hours per day on a school bus, five days per week.
If you were to leave a child in your car for 15 minutes while you shop for a gallon of milk, and someone sees you, you may well be reported. If you leave your dog in your car for three hours, you may well get arrested.
Yet, the thinking was it would be okay to put four- and five-year old children (hardly more than babies) on a school bus for three hours each day. That is not education – that borders on cruelty. Any discussion on that issue has fallen on deaf ears.
This transportation problem has been here for a long time. Certainly before this Board’s time, and surely it is not the Board’s fault. Nevertheless, like many other issues, it is their responsibility to try to solve it.
Please understand, I am not opposed to consolidation, but only when it is necessary and when it is reasonable. In the case of Mattoon, it was not necessary or reasonable. It has resulted in a lot of wasted work, time and money.
In my opinion, the Board’s handling of the Mattoon situation has not been good. They may not think that, but the folks on the street surely do. Any Board member who believes this school district cannot support a satellite school to alleviate the distance of travel in this district, he or she is either woefully misinformed or is unduly influenced from outside the Board.
Roy W. Dieck
Former Board Member
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