November 15, 1997 in City

Safety, Schooling - Do What’s Right

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The hit-and-run death of a Post Falls teenager Monday evening has prompted a lot of finger pointing.

Some parents and at least one school trustee blame the tragic death of Nicholas Scherling on the voters who have blocked three tries to pass a high school bond levy. If the district had built a new high school, they say, Post Falls Middle School wouldn’t need to double-shift. And Scherling, 13, a popular seventh-grader, wouldn’t have been walking home from school after dark. He’d be alive today.

The other side defends itself by claiming school officials shrewdly decided to double-shift so parents would clamor for a new high school.

Unfortunately, nothing can bring Nicholas back - and all the blaming and rationalizing simply adds to his family’s pain.

Besides, adequate schools and double shifts weren’t the only factors involved in this tragedy. A motorist made a bad decision, possibly fueled by drunkenness, to pass a vehicle by driving onto the right shoulder of Seltice Way. Then, the roadside was unlit - and there was no sidewalk.

Rather than browbeat each other, Post Falls residents should concentrate on reducing the chances that another preventable tragedy like this one will recur.

Chiefly, Post Falls School District patrons must pass the high school bond that will be presented to them next year. Too many “yes” voters have stayed home in the past, allowing dedicated bond foes to use Idaho’s two-thirds supermajority law to enforce their will on the majority. As a result, students are jammed into buildings and endure double shifts - while the district becomes a laughingstock.

After voters in depressed Kellogg overwhelmingly approved a recent $6.6 million bond, a jubilant supporter exclaimed: “These people stood up and said, ‘We are not going to be a Bonners Ferry. We’re not going to be a Post Falls. Our kids matter to us.”’ Post Falls, of course, can’t build a school tomorrow. Even if the next bond passes, a new high school won’t be open for two years. Meanwhile, the district should take a zero-tolerance policy toward anything that endangers children.

If that means the district has to assign buses to pick up middle-schoolers at their doorsteps and deliver them back to their homes, so be it. If it means adding street lights or sidewalks along dark stretches of town used by children, the city should spend the money to install them.

No other child should be hurt or killed while grownups fail to do their duty.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board


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