Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

November 20, 2012

Forum: TCAPS board will learn

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

-- John Wooden

The Board of Education for the Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) recently asked voters to approve a bond proposal for the financing of a long-term capital infrastructure plan.

That plan included the reconstruction of four elementary schools, investments in technology, buses, and other infrastructure, the construction of an auditorium at Central High School and other renovations at Central and West high schools.

After a robust period of community-wide conversation, debate and deliberation, the voters rejected the bond request.

As president of the TCAPS board, I am admittedly disappointed by the result of the bond election.

However, as a member of the community, I am proud of the level of interest in our public school system and the public engagement in the district's long-range capital plan. The interest in the bond proposal shows a keen desire to help determine the future of our public school system.

I invite and encourage our community to remain engaged in the TCAPS' capital planning process. I believe there is relatively widespread recognition that TCAPS has significant capital infrastructure needs that will require another bond proposal to be presented to voters. The board and district administration will be engaging with the community to determine priorities and opinions regarding the best course of addressing the district's needs.

Students should be the focus of ongoing conversations. The status quo leaves students in inequitable learning environments. A strong education system is the backbone of a vibrant community, and our community has historically supported education and provided youth the resources necessary for effective learning. I am confident that our community will again work together to adequately provide for all students.

Despite the results of the election, serious needs still exist, and a multi-year capital improvement plan remains unfinished. We have successfully completed part of a comprehensive strategy for updating our schools. We owe it to our children to finish what we started.

The board will engage and respond appropriately to community input on the direction of our school district. We are representatives of the community, but more than that, we are advocates for our community's children, many of whom do not have a political voice. Our responsibility is to represent the needs of our children both now and in the future. We will work diligently to ensure that the community's resources are efficiently used to provide the best possible education to our students to prepare them for the demands of the world in which we live.

The board expects its learners to be resilient and adaptable.

In the face of the November election defeat, the board commits itself to exemplify those same traits. As aptly noted by legendary UCLA basketball coach and teacher John Wooden, "If I am through learning, I am through." The TCAPS board remains committed to vigorously continuing its own learning, to ensure the success of our community and its children.

About the author: Kelly Hall is president of Traverse City Area Public Schools' Board of Education.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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