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There’s plenty to be optimistic about as 2012 begins. While many of us will chart New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking or spend more time with family, we would like to outline a few broader community goals.
We hope the year ahead brings stability to Cannelton City Schools. Specifically, we would like leaders of the school district, threatened by a small student population and cuts in funding, to do one of two things in 2012:
First, either right the school system’s financial condition and prove to the community and the state that it can be operated as a small but financially stable district that does a good job of educating kids.
Or, secondly, if its interim superintendent, school board and broader community deem that it is unfeasible for Cannelton City Schools to continue as an independent district, that it begin the process of merging with its neighboring school systems.
Based on what we know at year’s end, we hope for the former but we don’t want to see any school system reach a point where it can’t pay its bills and basically becomes insolvent. Insolvency, we fear, will leave too little time and too few options for doing what’s best for students and the city. Even if consolidation occurs, we would like to see an elementary school remain open in Cannelton. We worry that may not happen if the money runs out and the state or debtors make demands.
We encourage Interim Superintendent Alva Sibbitt to fully share the financial picture of the school with the public. What are the school system’s debts to the IRS? What are enrollment projections for the coming year? Will revenue cover expenditures? If not, what additional cuts will have to be made?
Every school faces challenges and, while Cannelton’s are more serious than most, we hope the new year brings answers that will be in the best interests of students, communities and taxpayers.
In neighboring Tell City, one of the major projects planned in 2012 is development of a comprehensive plan for the community. A state grant is paying for the project, which will create a road map of sorts for the city, examining the current state of infrastructure, economic development and public services.
Meetings will be held to gather public input and we would like to see plenty of it. The comprehensive plan, once done, will provide a guide to the city for the next decade in terms of development, shaping the city’s downtown and encouraging new businesses.
Perry County’s Hometown Competitiveness Program swung into gear last year but it will be in 2012 that several projects will be launched. The News will profile work on the program soon but there are committees at work in the areas of youth, leadership, entrepreneurship, charitable wealth and promoting the economic success of rural families. Cheri Taylor, executive director of the Perry County Chamber of Commerce, shares an update on the project on this page.
We eagerly await the goals each of the five pillar committees will set and projects they will advance within the community. As with Tell City’s comprehensive plan, there will be plenty of opportunities to help the effort, including a public gathering in February.
There are, of course, community resolutions we’ve sought in years past. What good news it would be if the community landed a major new employer, a company that offered skilled, good-paying jobs without concerns of over pollution or noise. As we all know, every community is angling for big projects but we think Perry County, with its industrial parks and a willing workforce, is well positioned to compete for economic development.
We hope the new year brings new retail and commercial businesses to the community and the expansion of those here. We await lively political races, from president and senator to governor and county offices.
We’ll close by offering our wish that 2012 is a prosperous year, one in which challenges are met and goals reached through open dialogue, cooperation and hard work.
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