Ignoring Alpine’s need for a high school is a mistake

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Life is not fair. Most of us learn this early. 

But most people would agree that a good society will do its best to provide equitable opportunities for its youth, not favoring one group at the expense of the other. 

Life is not fair. Most of us learn this early. 

But most people would agree that a good society will do its best to provide equitable opportunities for its youth, not favoring one group at the expense of the other. 

A brief look at the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) and their finally-ended litigation with the Alpine Union School District (AUSD) and Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability (ATBA) might hint that our community could do a better job of looking out for its young people. 

After twenty years of debate, two bond measures, $700 taxpayer dollars raised, and more than $3 million spent in legal fees during three years of litigation, GUHSD has finally won its right to ignore the needs of the Alpine community for a high school of their own. 

It should go without saying that every community needs a high school, or is at least innumerably benefited by the presence of one. 

High schools hold a prominence in the community and carry with them a sense of identity and pride — even for those whose experiences were less than pleasant. 

More than that, high school’s provide vitality-sparking outreaches into the community that inspire unity and regional pride, like Monte Vista’s student-led clean up last week of the Casa de Oro area which brought together students with community members to clean up streets on a Saturday morning. 

Obviously, high school sports directly impact the community. What is a small town without Friday night football games? But the Alpine students who make the 45-minute commute to school and back every day do not even usually have the opportunity to participate on sports teams — the buses do not leave late enough to accommodate evening practices. What a shame, considering how beneficial athletics are for the development of character in young people and the door they can be for success in the world beyond high school. 

Of course, GUHSD had its reasons to reject the plans for an Alpine high school. Whether it was more pressing district needs that took a higher priority, the dropping enrollment numbers or simply balking at the gargantuan task of building an expensive school so far out of the way, it is hard to understand the exact motivations that would have led the district to spend nearly $3 million to defend its right to not build Alpine a high school. 

The Alpine groups also paid through the nose, reported figures totaling to nearly $700,000. 

It is hard to argue with books and ledgers, and I would like to say that Grossmont must have had a justification in all of this.

But our public school system was created to serve the community, and Alpine is currently being underserved. Families are leaving the area to avoid the long and often dangerous trek down the mountain that their own high schoolers would have to make after the eighth grade. A beloved community is dissipating, and I would love to know which district need was so important that it took precedence over this one. Grossmont has done a disservice to the students of Alpine.

Of course, none of the youth of Alpine will be permanently scarred by this. It may even help them turn out to be stronger, more resourceful people. It is fascinating how the unfairness in life tends to work that way. 

But East County needs to be more vigilant in the future to guard the opportunities of our children and promote their success, whatever the final bill may be.

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