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TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Decatur desegregation money was well spent

Decatur City Schools spent $814,187 in 9 years to develop a plan that assures the district complies with constitutional requirements of desegregation.

While some have speculated about other ways the district could have spent those funds, the money was used well under the circumstances.

It is almost absurd that we are haggling about desegregation five years into the 21st century. The concept that all children, regardless of race, should have equal access to a quality school system is far from new.

"Obviously, that's a significant amount of money that, under different circumstances, we could have invested in a lot of different ways," schools Superintendent Sam Houston said.

The key phrase here is "under different circumstances."

The district could have hired more than a dozen additional teachers with those funds, or purchased more than 10,000 textbooks at $80 each "under different circumstances." But the circumstances dictated that the school system comply with constitutional principles.

Now board members and administrators must ensure that Decatur schools never again fall into the trap of favoring one school district over another. The plaintiffs must keep an eye on school developments, but also must be satisfied that progress was made even if it wasn't the entire package they sought.

"That's a lot of money, but we've got a good school system and we learned a lot that I know we'll put to good use," said board member Karen Duke.

The desegregation case was an expensive education for the school system and the taxpayers. But the best education is rarely without cost.

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