Besides forcing most of Jacksonville to have to travel a much greater distance to drop off their kids for school, has the Jacksonville Board of Education considered the other tradeoffs implicit if they move Kitty Stone Elementary from its present location to the vicinity of Wal-Mart and the high school? It will be removing one jewel from the crown of what traditionally has been a source of cultural pride for small-town America: that geographical hub of city hall, police, library, schools and churches that tells the world, “We are somebody!” (And if the school is moved and city hall and the police follow, as has been suggested, Jacksonville’s cultural hub will more closely resemble a husk.) More troubling, removing Kitty Stone from its present location will deprive those children, who for whatever reasons are left at loose ends once school lets out, from the nearby safe havens represented by the library and the eateries near the public square. And for giving up these things, what does the city get in return? A potential derelict property that cannot be repurposed for much else and that is sure to become a crime magnet.
The other trade-off for that proposed bright new school is a traffic-choked George Douthit Drive that will twice a day have to absorb the traffic of two adjacent schools, plus the ongoing daily traffic of Wal-Mart and Jacksonville’s nearby health care community and the neighborhoods that feed into Douthit. And this would be without city hall and the police department adding to the congestion. Don’t —no, do — think about an emergency situation that would require an evacuation of the schools.
I think in this instance Duck Dynasty’s Uncle Si hit the nail on the head: old school is better. Kitty Stone needs to stay in its present location and remain a jewel in the crown.Harry D. Nuttall