I usually see news from a detached perspective. But the debate over school redistricting along Corridor G affects me directly.
My kids attend a school that could be affected, and my family could have to make decisions based on the outcome.
So I've tried to stay out of it both professionally and personally — but keep feeling drawn in.
Kanawha County is trying to alleviate overcrowding at John Adams Middle, which had the highest Westest reading and math scores in the state last year, the highest student population of any middle school in Kanawha County with 740 students, and seven aging portable classrooms to house those bright young brains.
With 749 kids in 1994, 798 in both 1995 and 1996, 779 in 1997, 747 in 2004, 753 in 2005, 771 in 2006 and 754 in 2006, there have been more crowded years.
Nevertheless, my neighbors want to be a part of the school. Many parents of Alum Creek and Ruthlawn Elementary children — like my family — signed up for 30-year mortgages based largely on the school district.
Not everyone is sympathetic.
"That area was never 'supposed' to be in the GW attendance area, but the South Hills are whining because their schools are so overcrowded," one woman wrote in an online newspaper article comment.
Another wrote, "How snobby of these people! I'm appalled!"
And on a TV website: "OMG, JUST GO TO ANOTHER SCHOOL."
That's what parents in my neck of the woods have been hearing for three decades.
Here's the history:
For 40 years or so, families in the area were served by Washington District High, which was consolidated into George Washington High in the mid-1960s. The old high school became Washington Junior High School.
By the late 1970s, the junior high was deteriorating, leaky, and, apparently, often ignored. In 1978, my boss, Nanya Friend, wrote about the first visit by the county superintendent and school board president to the school in six years.
"They think we're in Lincoln County," one teacher was quoted as saying bitterly.
Their visit was prompted by a letter from eighth-grader Vicki Dugan, who wrote, "We would like for you to come out to visit Washington Junior High School. We would like to see if you can walk on water. We do, every time it rains."