Ran into Steve Douglas the other day and he offered to take Melody and I on a tour of the new Neosho Junior High School. As a school board member he was pretty proud to show off the school and, after seeing it, I can understand why he is. This is a school that our kids and our community deserve.

Ran into Steve Douglas the other day and he offered to take Melody and I on a tour of the new Neosho Junior High School.  As a school board member he was pretty proud to show off the school and, after seeing it, I can understand why he is.  This is a school that our kids and our community deserve.
Driving up to it, the actual building is not all that impressive because the board didn’t spend our tax dollars on outside aesthetics, rather they spent it on the things that will make a difference for our students.  That’s not to say that the building is not impressive on the inside but you can tell that a lot of time and thought was put into how to make this a 21st century educational facility.
As soon as I saw the facility I knew that I needed to write a column about it so I asked Steve for some facts and figures.  To tell you the truth, I haven’t been following the progress of the building that closely because I have had other things on my mind so looking over the numbers he gave me was even more reason to be proud.
When the levy increase was approved in 2014 it was supposed to raise $24 million through bond sales, but because of a variety of positive reasons happening in the bond market the levy actually raised $27 million.  So now instead of a 114,000 square foot facility that was originally promised, the actual building is 142,000 square feet with plenty of room to grow in the future.
In the past, it seems that as soon as we built a new school it was overcrowded immediately.  With prudent financial oversight and some good market timing, this board made the right decisions so this shouldn’t be a problem for many, many years.
The other thing that impressed me was the planning that went into safety and security.  We will now have another tornado shelter in the community and a safer environment for our students from a security point of view.
As a former board member, I have to admit that I am envious of the current board and wish that I could have been a part of such a great project.  I’m proud of the way they have approached this and as Steve put it in his message to me, the board “under promised and over delivered”.  And yes they did.
I know that there will probably be some in the community that we say there is no reason for such an extravagant school.  They may say that the schools we went to “in the day” were not fancy and we got a good education.  And some may note that it’s the teachers and not the building that teaches our kids.  And, they would be right because no building ever taught our kids anything.

But, I would counter that with the fact that we are now well into the 21st century and the world is changing exponentially.  If we are to keep pace with those changes, we have to change as well in our approaches to not only education but a lot of things.  This new facility is a state of the art learning center that takes these changes into account.

Now, I will throw in this caveat.  We cannot let technology or new buildings take our eyes off the fact that our kids need a strong grasp of foundational learning principles in order to take advantage of the technology.  I think in many ways society has gotten away from the basics in order to take “the easy way” in getting by in life.

I fully believe that our school district embraces the concept of teaching these core principles and now our junior high teachers have the opportunity to do so with the proper tools for teaching in 2017.  As I said, this is a school that our kids and our community truly deserve.

This week there is going to be a ribbon cutting and open house at Junior High for the community at noon on Thursday.  This is a perfect opportunity for you to see this new great facility and to take time to participate in a celebration of what we, as a community, are doing for our kids.  I’m always proud of my hometown but this Thursday I will be just a little prouder than usual.

Kevin Wilson writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.