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John Eggers: Building a new school is the right decision

Communities agonize over building a new school and, rightfully, they should because it is a big decision.

I recently had the occasion to write a letter to the editor of my hometown paper, the "Lake Region Life," in Waterville, Minn., about efforts there to build a new school.

The discussion in Waterville has been going on for many, many years. The structure, which is now being used, was built in the early 1900s, making it one of the oldest k-12 school buildings in the state. Because many communities such as Waterville and Bemidji have similar issues when it comes to building new schools, readers might be interested in hearing my reasons why building a new school in Waterville is a good decision and the same can be said for building a new school in Bemidji.

Dear Editor,

It's none of my business, but Waterville needs a new school. When I drive past the old high school, I have lots of fond memories of it because I graduated from that building in 1961. What's even more remarkable is that my father also has fond memories because he graduated from the same building in 1936.

A main portion of the current building was dedicated in 1932 and no doubt there are remnants of the building remaining which was dedicated in 1902 making it one of the oldest occupied k-12 schools in the state. Could it be the oldest?

You can say that the voters made a wise decision in 1902 and again in 1932 when they decided to build a new building and they did it right. They truly got their money's worth. After some remodeling over the years the building has served the community well. But it's time the Waterville, Elysian and Morristown citizens make another good decision and build a new building for their young people.

As an educator for the past 50 years, I know a little something about what a new building can do for the community and you do, too. It's just good for the community and good business. New schools attract new families, new businesses, and renew a sense of pride in the community. Given the choice between moving to a community which has a new school and a school built in the early 1900s, a family will chose the community with the new school. Who wouldn't?

Believe it or not, students actually perform better in a new school and teachers actually teach better. The phenomenon is called the Hawthorne effect. What it means is that when the working environment is improved people perform better. It's kind of like getting a new car.

New car owners drive better, they are more cautious, make better decisions and have a better attitude. The same is true of teachers in a new situation. The recipients of this change are their students who do better.

I know finances are always an issue and like most small communities in Minnesota, we do not have money to throw away. If there were ever a reason to build, this would be it. Putting a Band-Aid over a repair will eventually come off. You know that the longer you wait, the more it will cost. It's time to bite the bullet. After a summer of flooding and fires, Waterville needs a shot in the arm and a proposal for a new school is the right prescription. The Band-Aid approach is a short-term fix for a long-term issue that will become larger and larger.

Waterville has always been good to its young people. Building a new school is just the right thing to do. But as I said earlier, it's none of my business.

John R. Eggers, class of 1961

Minnesota just finished watching an amazing show in Minneapolis — the Major League Basenall All-Star Game. Many out-of-towners will leave Minnesota impressed at Minnesota's ability to do things exceedingly well. The Mayo Hospital, for example, was recently voted as the No. 1 hospital in the United States.

When you think about it, on the whole, Minnesota has the habit of doing things exceedingly well. Oh, we hem and haw a lot but when all is said and done, we know that if you are going to do something, do it well. That's kind of a Minnesota nice trademark.

The same can be said for education at the k-12 level as well as at the college and university level. We do things right, which means building new schools for our students when the need is there. We do it because it's just the right thing to do.