Fast forward 40 years and there still is no middle school. There is, however, talk of a new elementary school. As a firm supporter of our school system, I have advocated that our city should support our schools financially. I am very much against moving Kitty Stone Elementary to the outskirts of Jacksonville. It is vital for our city’s health that Kitty Stone remain in its present location — in the heart of the town. To move it will be one more step in the demise of the northeast side of town. To move the school behind Wal-Mart will mean elementary school kids in my area will be boarding the buses in the dark to get to school. Young families will flee our neighborhood by the droves to avoid the extra 10 minutes of precious traveling time in the mornings.
The current location is lovely with giant trees on the playground providing much-needed shade in the midday sun. Sidewalks surrounding the school make it convenient for kids to walk to the library or even to walk to school. Parents can run errands on the square as they head to and from school. Surely a group as bright as our school board can find a way to make the current site work, if they want to.
The heart of the school is the teachers, not how many flat screens are on the wall or other fancy equipment. Take the extra money spent to move the school and support our teachers with the supplies that often come out of their own pockets or bank that money toward a long-awaited middle school. Our town will be so much better. Our community will rise in support and, consequently, support — emotionally and financially — for the Jacksonville City Schools will be invigorated.