Tonight's action by the Warren County School Board could have a greater impact on the future of the Warren County School District over the next half-century than any actions in recent memory.
In essence, the board will be asked to consider whether to commit to the concept of four high schools within its administration or embark on a path that gradually dismantles the district.
There will be two votes, one on the Eisenhower charter application and one on whether or not to close Eisenhower Middle/High School.
The board has already appeared to indicate that it intends to keep the current high school open by pursuing funding to not only make improvements, but expand it sufficiently to accommodate all grades from kindergarten through 12th.
As to the particularly politically charged question of the charter application, that decision should be based on the requirements and prerequisites for the creation of a public charter school, not politics.
We hope the board will consider the application based on its educational merits and whether the educational program proposed is a marked improvement over the educational program already offered at the existing Eisenhower Middle/High School.
The charter school concept was established to solve problems in education. It was established to provide an alternative to failing programs or to provide unique educational experiences that are not available in the public system and for which there is a demonstrated need.
Since the educational performance of Eisenhower Middle/High School has routinely been at or near the top among all of the high schools in this district, showing a marked improvement over existing performance would be daunting.
It is almost axiomatic that public charter schools represent an increased cost to the public school districts that host them. In instances where solutions must be found for failing schools, those costs may be justified. In instances where a district is unable or unwilling to provide specialized education for which there is a clearly established need, those costs may be justified.
The board is prohibited by the charter law from granting or refusing a charter based on solely financial considerations. But, the reality is that all public schools, be they operated by a charter board of directors or a local school board, obtain virtually all of their operating revenue from the public.
Tonight's votes will be pivotal, and we are confident that the nine members of the school board have had sufficient time to contemplate the weight of their decision. Which ever way those votes go, we respect them for their work.