The decision to tear down Broughal School is about more than historic preservation, just as the decision to approve a zoning change over the objections of hundreds of residents is about more than protecting the watershed, and the ‘stealth’ decision to install artificial turf is about more than grass. In each of these recent cases, a local board or council has violated any sense of due process and made costly and illogical decisions in defiance of the democratic process.
I could list dozens of environmental, historical, educational, and financial reasons why demolishing Bethlehem’s Broughal School and building a huge new school are against the taxpayers’ interests, but I wonder why this should be necessary. Citizens have the right and duty to speak out, of course, but they should be able to trust our municipal, county, and school leaders.
Don’t board members understand that it’s their responsibility to explore the possibilities so they can arrive at the best decision, not just pick one that they like? Perhaps even more important, don’t board members WANT to explore new ideas that can help them choose wisely? Why should citizens have to repeatedly beg officials to listen as they point out the obvious, teach the ‘pros’ what they are missing, and then try to drag them kicking and screaming to do what’s right?
An official at the Bethlehem Area School District suggested that citizens come in with a better proposal and they would consider it. They don’t seem to understand that it is not the citizens’ responsibility to work out every detail of a plan, or even to find the best plan. that’s why we elect school board and council members (and pay administrators and consultants).
These officials are supposed to be stewards of the commonwealth—the resources and infrastructure that belong to us all.