From The Editor’s Desk: Our school wishlist comes with a price

Published 6:57 pm Saturday, April 1, 2023

There are five words that I despise hearing more than anything in the world. No, it’s not “sorry sir, we’re sold out,” even though that’s a close second at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It’s also not “well, I changed my mind”, but that’s almost as bad.  No, what I hate hearing most of all is “you need to be realistic”, especially when it involves school. 

That implies that the dream, the goal or whatever I’m talking about is somehow not viable as is. Even if that’s the truth, nobody likes saying it, let alone hearing it. And normally I would be the first one encouraging people to dream, to aim high. But in this case, we all need to consider the situation as well. 

Now by situation, I’m referring to the future of Prince Edward County Elementary School. By this point, there’s been meetings between architects and the staff, employees, parents and residents of the county. And each time, people have been given the opportunity to say what they want to see, to explain what they want added to the school (or taken away). 

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Some ideas are, especially in a week that saw a mass shooting at a school in Tennessee, unfortunately needed. In the Thursday, March 16 community meeting, parents were concerned about the fact that there are so many ways to enter the school from the outside right now.

Part of the process, officials from Moseley Architects said, will be to make sure all visitors have to enter through the front doors. They will also look at building in, as part of the design, places where students can hide in a classroom if need be, areas not as easily seen when walking in. They’re also looking at connecting classrooms through an interior corridor, rather than having so many doors leading to the outside.

That’s a necessity. As is a new traffic design, to fix the morning and afternoon headaches parents experience everyday. 

But when it comes to everything else, and we’ve received quite a few suggestions since that original story ran, we need to be realistic. Greenhouse space and solar energy cells are great ideas, as are virtual reality workspaces and other 21st century tools. But we need to go into this understanding that the checkbook is not infinite. We’ve already seen that the state struggles to even get the regular budget right. They still don’t have a permanent fix for that $201 million self-inflicted shortfall, just a temporary one. So when they promise money is coming, we have to take that with a grain of salt. 

It’s also not fair or possible to put the full burden on Prince Edward County to make all of this wishlist happen, unless you just really want to see taxes go up. I’ve covered plenty of county meetings over the last six months. I can say that every rock has been looked under, every door opened. Yes, the county will provide funding for renovations, but we can’t get worked up when every request doesn’t make the final list, simply because the money isn’t there.

BRIAN CARLTON is the editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. He can be reached at