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Burgum speech shows schools should remain

At the Chamber's Annual Dinner Thursday at the wonderful Alerus Center, Gov. Doug Burgum was the keynote speaker. I found his speech enlightening, enthusiastic, articulate and very relevant to one of the discussions Grand Forks is having about building mega-schools with the possibility of closing numerous neighborhood schools.

The governor proved without a doubt the cost of the "build it and they will come" attitude by those advocating a mega-elementary school is wrong. In 1987, I co-chaired the $11.5 million bond issue to expand Central High School in downtown Grand Forks. Mark Sanford, the superintendent at the time, worked very closely with us to put together a quiet campaign to convince people of the importance of that location to the entire city of Grand Forks.

Some opposition to the renovation and expansion of Central arose with the claim that building a mega-school in Grand Forks would be a better option than investing in downtown. The public voted 72 percent in favor of expanding, renovating and keeping Central High School in downtown Grand Forks. Not only did the citizens of Grand Forks make the right decision then, it has proved to be even a better decision today.

In his wonderful talk, the governor singled out Central High School as having a walk score of 84, meaning that almost every amenity that someone would want can be had without driving a car. The governor praised Grand Forks for that decision in 1987.

I suggest the school district and the school board listen carefully to what Gov. Burgum said at that dinner. He is right. Let's keep our neighborhood schools. Let's do the right thing again.

Hal Gershman

Grand Forks

Hal Gershman is a former member of City Council.