Trentonian columnist L.A. Parker wrote Saturday that the outpouring of support that has developed for saving Trenton Central High School from the wrecking ball seems incredibly insensitive, given the plight of the students who are actually trying to learn in the building.
He may have hit on something that seems to have been lost in all of the brouhaha over preserving that wonderful structure in the East Ward.
It may be cliche, but what about the children?
While it has been the belief here that the building ought to be saved if possible, it is also a reality that the students who are studying there already face enough problems in trying to get an education in a poverty and crime-ridden community.
They shouldn’t be distracted and required to worry about learning in a structure that is falling apart and much too large for the present student population.
So if it turns out that building new state-of-the-art facilities would remedy that situation more quickly than a renovation effort could, then Trenton needs to bite the bullet and move in that direction.
Surely portions of the building – especially the wonderful front facade with the clock-tower – could be saved for historical purposes or even for use as some sort of athletic or educational facility.
The children studying there currently should not be punished because a city and a school board couldn’t keep up with a regular schedule of maintenance to keep the building in working form.
And while that inability to manage the maintenance of the buildings is one of the real causes of this problem, the city will get nowhere by moving towards a renovation effort simply to remedy the past ineptitude of Trenton’s school administration.
Preserving historical structures is important to keeping a link to the city’s great past, especially in hope that one day another great future will come to Trenton, but that effort should not take precedence over the teaching of children who so desperately need a proper education.
For all his shortcomings, Superintendent Rodney Lofton made two important points at a school board meeting last week, where good comments and pertinent information came few and far between.
“Facilities do not determine a child’s education, but they have an effect on it,” said Mr. Lofton. “One thing that is good about being superintendent is that all I have to worry about is the needs of the children.”
Maybe – and in fact more likely – renovating the school could provide a proper learning environment for the kids at Trenton Central, using plans that were put together years ago.
But whatever the case, it is important to pick the plan that will better satisfy the needs of the current, living children rather than the needs of those trying to save a historically-significant but inanimate building that has already gone into disrepair.