Another breakdown

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 10:56 p.m.

Sometimes we wonder if county commissioners and school board members even speak the same language.

Last year, commissioners and board members talked at each other, rather than to each other, over how to save Diamond Sports Park. Instead of bringing two local governments together in common cause, the park's acquisition turned into a dispute that only drove them further apart.

We hope history isn't repeating itself over the future of an entrepreneurial magnet school that began some three years ago as a laudable partnership between the county, school board and city.

County Commissioner Rodney Long first proposed a magnet program to help disrupt the generational cycle of poverty by giving youngsters from low-income families the tools they need to succeed as entrepreneurs. Not only did the city, county make substantial financial commitments to the program, but business and community partners were to be enlisted in the creation of a trust fund to make loans and grants available to help entrepreneurial graduates start their own businesses.

But now, three years into the partnership, there appears to have been a serious failure of communications. School board members say they thought that the initiative would be integrated into public school magnet programs, like Loften High School's Academy of Business Ownership. But Long says his intention all along had been for the program to eventually function as a free-standing charter school.

"I wonder if Mr. Long understands the complexities of running a charter school," board member Wes Eubank posed this week. "This has been talked about for years," Long told the Sun.

Frankly, we're not sure whether the entrepreneurial initiative ought to be a public school magnet or a stand-alone charter. But we're stunned that the question is coming up only now after three years of presumed collaboration.

Sadly, we've seen this sort of breakdown before in intergovernmental relations. That our elected officials cannot seem to communicate with each other in a clear and consistent fashion causes unnecessary strife and ill serves the voters and taxpayers. We hope and trust that reasonable people on both boards are capable of resolving this issue without jeopardizing the future of a worthy initiative.

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