By Editorial Board
Having cleared the school board last week after months of laborious discussions, the success of a five-year plan to rebalance Sto-Rox’s rocky finances now rests on the will of the community.
The task is daunting. Officials overseeing the plan have made it clear the 55-year-old district will only be around another five years from now if it can begin to stem the flow of students from the public district into surrounding charter and cyber systems. This in turn depends on a whole sequence of smaller improvements, that, taken together, may just convince parents to see Sto-Rox as the preferred option on offer.
In short, the district needs to become safer, healthier, better staffed, better resourced academically superior, and in every way stabler and stronger than it is now.
As Interim Superintendent Joseph Dimperio recently told the school board, these goals can’t be achieved simply by throwing money at the problem. They also depend on directors, admins and teaching staff working together in pursuit of a common vision. To add to that, they also require buy-in from the community.
Just as a cancer patient has much better odds for recovery if they believe they will get better, an ailing school district can only rebound from financial oblivion if the people believe it can meaningfully serve them and their children.
This will look different for each of Sto-Rox’s 12,000 residents.
For some, it means resisting the urge to sell up and move to the suburbs, leaving another property at risk of blight and removal from the tax rolls. For others, it means volunteering time and expertise to teach students skills and offer support through afterschool programming.
Others should use their time and expertise to run for office and add their voice to the cries for change. Everyone who can, should vote.
For many, a crucial first step is to cut out the negativity echoed in the endless variations of “it will never get better around here” that resound through every neighborhood bar and online block watch group. This means swimming against the tide.
But even during its lowest ebb, the district has found support from the community. Three years ago students celebrated the opening of their new football field brought to life by the donations of many local residents and business owners.
A year later, school paper shortages were quickly averted by community fundraising efforts that prompted a rapid influx of dollars. This past year, the small dedicated team at the Black Tea Brown Suga Network has opened up their Broadway Avenue studio to students who want to learn media skills or who simply need someone to listen to them.
Many others past and present have given in huge ways to keep the district going. To ensure their efforts aren’t for naught, join your voice or lend a hand.