Reorganizing a school district is never easy.
Schools are like second homes to many kids, and when they’re suddenly told they have to change their routine and go elsewhere, it makes them uncomfortable. Ditto their parents. Resisting change, after all, is human nature — at least for some people. And why mess with success, or something that, at the very least, is convenient?
Sometimes it’s necessary (as at the present time in Schenectady). And school board members need to remember, as they ponder how best — educationally as well as economically — to reconfigure schools, that it rarely possible to make everyone happy, or to avoid angering at least some constituents, when they fiddle with schools.
Board members also must remember that just because a large number of people make a lot of noise in defense of a particular school or configuration of schools, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the majority. (Nor should ambivalence to a particular plan by large numbers of constituents be misread as approval.)
But it’s not even a school board’s mandate to try to appease a majority of constituents if doing so isn’t cost-effective or if it creates an unequal distribution of assets.
Obviously, Schenectady school board members have their work cut out for them as they try to accommodate enrollment bulges, deteriorating buildings and taxpayers’ ability to handle rising costs. They don’t necessarily have to embrace a plan that configures all its schools uniformly (e.g. K-5 or K-8), though that would appear to be the most equitable arrangement. What they have to do is balance the competing interests (students, parents, taxpayers and educators) as best they can, and act decisively. We wish them courage.