The debate on how to best solve overcrowding at Moses Lake High School became heated at last week’s board meeting and understandably so. Just when the issue appeared to be solved with the narrow approval of a $135 million construction bond to build a second high school and an 11th elementary school, a group of taxpayers challenged the validity of the election in court. They disagree with how the disputed ballots were counted. The matter is still tied up in the state Court of Appeals, meaning the school district cannot legally proceed with construction. Many questions remain. Some believe the election was handled improperly and there are other, cheaper solutions to help students.
The issue is messy and complicated, to say the least. Students aren’t being served in the best way possible. They absolutely should have a learning environment that better meets their needs. Amid the debate, we should keep asking ourselves, what is the best way to serve students? Are we serving as good role models for the next generation? And should this issue divide our tight-knit community if it hasn’t already? We ask these questions because all involved are under a great deal of pressure to solve student overcrowding, honor voters’ wishes and be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. All sides are demanding it.
At the last board meeting, tensions were high. Protesters were outside and police were inside. The mute button on the microphones was accidentally pressed, creating communication issues between the board and public that were later resolved. The board room was packed full to standing room only. People were sizing newcomers up, trying to figure out what side of the issue they were on.
Some community members took issue with the time limit for speakers. They wanted their say and that was that. They got their say, with some at and some over the alloted time. We’re glad people showed up and cared, but hope respect and civility will guide future talks. If relations further disintegrate, any hope of helping students succeed is lost.
In the future months, there must be some compromise on both sides. It’s abundantly clear not everyone is going to get what they want. There will be winners and losers. The community must be able to forgive one another and love one another during this time of strife. Think ahead and mentally prepare for not getting what you want and how to handle a disappointing outcome maturely. Be a leader and an example to others. Work to do what is right for students instead of just being right.
We know there are good people on all sides of the issue. The people are what make this community a great place in which to work, live and play. Let’s not lose sight of that and try to remember the positive.
Slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in the 1960s when spreading his message of peace, equality and understanding. King’s message still rings true today.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Love thy neighbor.
— Editorial Board