EDITORíS DESK: At least the board was decisive

       I wouldn't want to get their letters, e-mails or phone calls, but the District 11 Board of Education at least deserves some credit for stepping up to the plate on this thorny, complex reutilization issue. The board's votes April 22 on the new attendance-area boundaries and transportation zones finished up the main policy-making actions that were needed to manage the configurations that will take effect when the 2009-10 school year starts in August.
       Think of it this way: It could have been worse. Board members could have hemmed and hawed and made damaging compromises in hopes of retaining their popularity. Such a course would have left us with an unworkable monster - bad for the kids and worthless in terms of financial savings. Don't get me wrong. Sorry doesn't even begin to describe how I feel when I contemplate the closings of Washington, Whittier and Buena Vista, which have been part of the Westside's fabric for a century or more. And let's not forget half--that-old Pike Elementary, the Title 1 school that could.
       Anybody who's ever spent time in any of those little schools will understand what I mean. You know how people often praise the Westside's "small-town atmosphere" in our Meet a Westsider column? Well, those schools are like microcosms of that - small towns for kids. The staffers don't just know the youngsters' names, they know their personalities, their families and where they're coming up short on test scores. I still wonder how a lot of them, hailing from somewhat-less- than-model homes in many cases, will do in bigger schools that are going to be unavoidably more formal. I fear such kids pulling back into their shells, compounded by a reduced chance of staffers noticing.
       Ah, well. Board members had to act, and they did so clearly and firmly. Time will tell the rest.

- K.J.