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EDITORIAL

A wish list for long-range city, school plans

5/31/07

Congratulations are in order for those winning terms on both the Iowa Park CISD School Board and Iowa Park City Council in recent elections.

That said, it’s now time to get down to some productive work.

THE SCHOOLS

Iowa Park’s schools are arguably its biggest asset. The IPCISD administration, led by superintendent Jerry Baird, and school trustees have done an exemplary job building on this foundation of tradition, values, and opportunities for its children.

And, while the general infrastructure of the school system is strong, it is also aging, and we should get our arms around that fact before it becomes a liability.

Let’s face it. If you want this community to grow and prosper, it needs to provide the necessary elements to do so, including viable businesses, attractive neighborhoods, opportunities for enjoyable leisure activities, and a strong, modern school system.

Campus improvements have been implemented throughout the years by IPCISD trustees in a smart, common sense fashion. And now we’d like to see it continue with the following considerations:
1. A serious study for either major renovation of, or the complete rebuilding of Iowa Park High School’s main campus;
2. Extend the study to include renovations to existing secondary and middle school campuses;
3. Extend the study to include renovations and improvements to the athletic facilities at the IPHS campus, including Hawk Stadium, the field house, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, and both gymnasiums. Physical education facilities at all other campuses should be included;
4. Include in the study possible renovations and improvements to the school’s technical, trade and agriculture learning centers;
5. Provide an environment that attracts and retains the best teachers possible;
6. Research additional curriculum potential and physical inventory including computer systems and IT networks, source materials and equipment to give the students a top-notch learning environment;
7. Continue building relationships with area higher learning institutions including Vernon College, and continue to expand the opportunities for earning credit hours towards bachelors and associate degree plans;
8. Find sensible means to finance these necessary improvements over a rational timeline.

If this community can rally behind such a proactive and necessary endeavor, it will inevitably benefit not only the existing student population, but also provide a compelling reason for other families to locate within the school district for years to come.

THE CITY
Iowa Park is at the crossroads in terms of development. Without considerable attention to the development of retail and industrial businesses in this town, we will merely continue to consider ourselves as a bedroom community (despite rising gas prices) to that city 10 miles to the east. Without a progressive-minded school system, newcomers to the area may find Burkburnett or Holliday or even Henrietta more interesting.

This town should also consider itself proactive in improving its overall appearance, and that should be a no-brainer.

The Iowa Park City Council and city administration should therefore focus on the following areas:
1. Continue project plans to improve the city’s basic services of streets, water and sanitation;
2. Encourage homes and businesses to improve their property, and, when necessary, enforce ordinances to clean up junked yards and buildings;
3. Become increasingly proactive in courting new industrial and commercial development, plus incentives for expansion and/or improvements to existing businesses;
4. Make smart and sensible upgrades and improvements to the city’s police and fire department capabilities;
5. Continue with enhanced determination to build and improve park areas around Gordon Lake and throughout the city.

THE RESULT
If the above-mentioned can be embraced and achieved with a relative measure of success, we as citizens of Iowa Park and its surrounding school district can continue to consider ourselves as people blessed with an immeasurable level of pride and purpose, considerate of our children’s future, and more than ready to face the challenges of our town’s future.



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