Stet annexation tests our ‘strong bonds’

Dear Editor,

I am a resident of the Stet School District. I have attended several meetings about annexation, and I feel the only people who are getting a voice are those directly involved.
The board has been asked to do an incredibly difficult job. However, if this process had been handled differently, communication would’ve been better, more community members would’ve been heard, the district patrons would’ve been more involved and the district would not be so splintered.
I attended the school board meeting on Jan. 3, during which the annexation map for the April ballot was drawn up. The registered voters in the district received a survey that allowed for a first and second choice of school district. The board indicated that they would use these results to help them draw the new boundaries.
Unfortunately, they seemed unable to find a middle ground. They rarely referenced the second choices, and instead seemed determined to either give everyone their first choice, or use roads for boundaries. There was a large amount of focus placed on the children already in school, and almost no consideration given to children who haven’t started school yet or to future generations.
Mr. Wiggans stated that the map was drawn by natural boundaries. However, the Braymer/Hardin boundary has been manipulated to include some families in their district of choice. The board and Mr. Wiggans have both said the map is fair because it gives 65 to 70 percent of the voters what they want.
Allowing some voters who live next to boundaries to choose a district based on thesurvey and disregarding others was inappropriate. Several times during the meeting, board members said that they needed more time to draw the boundaries. Mr. Wiggans was unreceptive to that suggestion. The board seemed pressed for a decision they weren’t completely sure of.
Communication with patrons in the last few months has been insufficient and made preparation for this transition more difficult. The lack of open forums to gather information from residents has resulted in the administration, school board and community alike relying on hearsay. We should have worked to find a middle-of-the-road solution, but some of our voices went unheard.
I have been a member of the Stet community my entire life. I have never seen it as fractured as it is at now. We didn’t choose to raise our children here for the school, but for strong values and the way we stand together during tough times. We need to demonstrate those qualities right now.
We may not all get exactly what we want, but we need to realize that everyone’s district of choice is based on many factors. The factors may be family in the area, physical location in relation to home or work, or the education we believe that district will provide. We need to respect our neighbors and their decisions. We should continue to value our community for the strong bonds I hope can be restored after the school has closed.

– Stacey Burgess

One Response to Stet annexation tests our ‘strong bonds’

  1. Anita Gibson

    January 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I agree 100% with Stacey Burgess. Accommodations were made to ensure certain children were placed in the ‘district’ of choice and others wishes were denied. There is a two mile by three mile section in Ray Co. that certainly did not reflect the majority vote in placing the patrons in a district. Someone asked me over a month ago which district I would be in and my answer that day is the same as it is today, “whatever school district the Stet Board of Education deems appropriate”. I do not agree with the way this ‘issue’ has been handled and I hope that the community can heal once it is all said and done.

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