WESTERHOLD: Schools made tough call

The Sandusky school board voted to follow Superintendent Bill Pahl's recommendation to transfer middle school students from Jackson
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010

The Sandusky school board voted to follow Superintendent Bill Pahl's recommendation to transfer middle school students from Jackson Junior High School and have just one junior high next school year at the Adams building downtown.

The board also voted to close Madison Elementary next year.

The decisions have created anxiety across the area, as almost 40 working school professionals won't have jobs with the district next fall. There will be some retirement and attrition opportunities, but the pain and uncertainty of unemployment is hitting the public sector hard.

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The school district has faced difficult decisions for more than a decade, and school leaders continue to show they are grounded in the economic realities of the community. The board must cut costs, and it must also get approval from voters for taxes just to stay above water. Just to stay ahead from drowning in public debt.

In the 1960s, kindergarten classes were in the big classroom at Madison school that has the giant window view of Central Park. Seemed like a perfect view of the world, way back then, for a 6-year-old.

And a hundred years ago, the stone building at Jackson Junior High was a German school providing education for the children of new Americans.

Both schools have history laced with the very heritage of Sandusky, and the heritage of a nation. The school district has been a responsible public citizen and will leave good buildings offering excellent potential for re-development.

But it is a sad time watching families struggle with changes and uncertainty and the disappearance of what was known for generations.

Fall election lights a path

The school district changes represent just the latest development in a pile-on of community change. From the closing of House of Donuts to the barely limping status of the once-powerful but now-too-few manufacturers, the city's past is slipping away.

It's an identity crisis in Sandusky, in Erie County and across the region, and local, state and federal leaders offer little light toward a path of re-emergence.

Maybe in the end communities just die. Maybe that's what's happening. But maybe it's not too late. The fall elections will be here before a few blinks, and leaders with courage, confidence and a plan could emerge.

The city election will be the big kahuna come campaign season and the Register intends to bring readers the most complete campaign coverage ever, with candidate blogs, live candidate forums and up to the minute coverage.

And we'll keep our eye out and tell you about it if a plan toward re-emergence does emerge.

Solutions for credit card woes

Bill Ney is the best ally a newsroom could have. Bill, the Register's circulation director, has been in the newspaper business for a hundred years. When he speaks, the news team listens, most of the time. And when Bill said earlier this year the Register should do more to reach out to the community during this economic crisis, he led us to develop the Solutions town hall series at the Sandusky State Theatre on Tuesday evenings for the past five weeks.

The last Solutions town hall starts at 7 p.m. this Tuesday. The doors at the State Theatre open at 6. A panel of personal finance experts will answer audience questions on credit -- getting it, maintaining it, reducing debt or expanding it and fighting back against unfair penalties, fees, rates or other changes.

There, you have it.