Harrisonburg High 90210 .....
Is it time to re-imagine a solution?
The proposed high school is the Cadillac of Cadillacs, the BMW of BMWs, envy of all high schools to come. It is an amazing proposal....but maybe someone forgot which zip code we are in. How will the city afford it? Once built, ongoing educational and facilities expenses will increase educational costs by at least 30% more than they are now. It will impact the ability to support our other schools as well and will drive our middle class residents to less taxed locations. It is a perfect school for a wealthy, large community and a dream come true for many here, but maybe there are alternatives to a more affordable solution and a scaled down version using the current high school location. We might want to wait for the 2020 census results before going full steam ahead and might want to see how the whole COVID 19 issue plays out.
Given the STEM and Arts focus of the new school we might want to consider offering it as a resource to adjacent communities and counties - like a different version of The Governors School. Perhaps students from Rockingham, Augusta, Page and Shenandoah Counties would be interested in the programs offered and county cost sharing could be done as we do with Massanutten Tech. We could expand and include the technical school in the new location and maybe Blue Ridge Community College could use part of it as a satellite learning center for AP students (that is, if the city decides to move forward with the project).
We could approach industries for sponsorships and have programs for trades with the agreement that the kids in the programs work for the companies for a few years after graduation. The companies would have skilled labor and the graduates would have guaranteed employment. It is a win-win for both.
And....there are still more alternatives to consider with the existing schools and land. The pause gives us a chance to develop creative, more affordable solutions.