The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Rob Langrell
Publisher of the Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

New elementary school needs to happen – now


Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots on just one question. But it’s a big decision that’ll impact the Sidney community for decades to come.

The time is now to vote “yes” for the bond that’ll create the funds for a new elementary school to house students in kindergarten through 4th grade. The need to provide a school with the space, technology and amenities for our youngsters to receive a 21st Century education is too overwhelming to ignore.

The new school – to be situated on donated land on the east side of town – would replace the current South and North Elementary Schools. Those buildings were built in 1929 and 1955, respectively. When they were built and opened, the term “Internet” didn’t yet exist.

Do the math: one school is 86 years old and the other is 60. It’s time to place the importance of the education of our young students in the forefront. There are no other public-use buildings of this age in our community still being utilized on a regular basis without extensive renovation.

So why is it OK to place our young students in outdated, crumbling structures that lack the necessities for success? Simply put, it’s not.

According to construction experts, schools typically last between 50 and 70 years. North and South have served their purpose. Now it’s time to bring a modern, state-of-the-art school to Sidney and provide a place that will help these young minds learn and grow in a setting that’s conducive to current times.

No more putting “computer labs” in crowded hallways because of lack of space. No more specialized reading groups jammed around a table in front of the restrooms. No more physical education classes in multi-purpose rooms too small to allow for proper exercise – or worse, worrying about running into the large refrigerators housing the kids’ breakfast/lunch foods for the week that share the same space.

Modern education requires modern technology. There’s no arguing that point.

The school bond will raise about $19 million to cover the construction of the new school and necessary furniture, equipment and other essentials to open the facility. Of course, that comes with a price tag for the taxpayers.

It works out to approximately $120 annually on $100,000 worth of property owned. There’s no getting around it: modern structures come with a price tag. In this case, it’ll be money well – and appropriately – spent. A growing community like ours needs this – now.

The new school issue won’t simply disappear. The longer it takes to approve the school bond, the more expensive it’s likely going to be. The need for a new school with the proper technology to accommodate the flourishing student base isn’t going to vanish.

Cast a “yes” ballot on Tuesday and provide the future leaders of Sidney the opportunity that students in other communities are afforded. It’s the right thing to do.


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