Editorial: Making the best of a bad situation
The Gloucester County School Board acted quickly, decisively and in the best interest of its students and the community as a whole last Wednesday in laying out plans for the coming school year in the wake of the April 16 tornado that devastated Page Middle School.
Board members were left in the unenviable position of having to make a split second decision about a fundamental issue—providing a space for students to learn. Although the fall semester is still several months away, that is short time indeed when it comes to preparing for changes involving hundreds of students, teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc.
The decision made by the school board for the 2011-2012 school year—placing all of Gloucester’s sixth and seventh graders at Peasley Middle School, and moving all eighth graders to modular classrooms at Gloucester High School—while far from ideal, is the best that can be done on short notice.
Conditions are sure to be cramped, both at Peasley and GHS, and modular classrooms will present a whole set of challenges from providing security to myriad logistical issues. But we have every confidence these will be resolved just as quickly.
What was needed most in the aftermath of the tornado was decisive action, a return to a sense of normalcy so that the important work of education could continue. In this respect, the school division hardly missed a beat—with Page students returning to the classroom less than four days after the tornado struck. And just 11 days after the tornado hit (T-Day plus 11, if you will), the school board was able to choose from a prepared list of options for the school year to come.
Superintendent of Schools Ben Kiser and his administrative staff also deserve praise for their quick action. They prepare for these kinds of scenarios, never imagining that they could happen in real life.
It’s comforting to know that when something like this happens, the leaders are up to the challenge.