Editorial: Enough measuring, time to take action on plan for Danville Schools

Published 10:56 am Monday, November 7, 2016


Editorial opinion

There’s a famous rule of thumb that many carpenters live by — “measure twice; cut once” — that applies exceedingly well to many things outside the world of carpentry. In almost any line of work, you’ll find success if you do the legwork and studying first, then take decisive action once. It’s a pragmatic and efficient way to live.

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The Danville Schools Board of Education seemed to be embracing this philosophy when it assembled a planning committee to figure out what should be done about reorganizing the district’s elementary schools. But the board got trapped in the “measure” step and never got to “cut” when it decided it didn’t like the plan the committee came up with — to essentially divide the schools by grade rather than geography.

The board basically overruled the committee’s recommendation and sent the whole plan back to the committee, asking it to reconsider maintaining geographical splits in the schools. The committee, having already done all the legwork the first time around, unsurprisingly chose a proposal to split schools by grade that is very similar to the one it endorsed the first time.

No doubt it was a frustrating experience for committee members, who were told it was up to them to choose. They went through the intensive process of building a plan that can work, only to have their work returned as undesirable. There are two big problems you run into when you have to redo work that’s already been done: It’s a big waste of time, but it’s an even bigger drain on morale.

If you can remember a time when everything you had just typed into the computer disappeared before you could save, you know what repeating work can do to your mood.

The board formed the committee for the explicit purpose of deciding what should be done about the elementary schools. If board members already had a plan they liked in mind, they could have just formed a committee to figure out the logistics of their favored plan. They didn’t have to leave it up to a committee to decide what path the district should take. But because they did, they ought to have taken the plan the committee came back with and moved forward the first time.

Instead, the district is now bogged down with second guesses about what should be done. It’s more difficult to take decisive action if people divide themselves into opposing camps.

Board members might argue they were simply operating with an abundance of caution so they don’t make the wrong choice. We think the time for caution and investigation has come and gone. Further debating at this point is just delaying in order to avoid making anyone mad.

You can’t make everyone happy with every decision, no matter how many times you measure. At some point, you’ve got to commit and make the cut.

Several candidates for the two board of education seats opening up next year have said that whichever direction the district chooses, Danville will make it work. This might seem like a waffly way out of “picking a side” but they’re really hitting the nail on the head. It matters a whole lot less whether the district creates an early education center or maintains more traditional schools, and it matters a whole lot more whether the district can be unified in decisive action one way or the other.

The newest plan approved by the planning committee must be reviewed by the Kentucky Department of Education, then the committee must hold another public hearing on the matter. Finally, the plan can head once again to the Danville Board of Education. Hopefully this time, they’ll make the cut.