Maple and Spring Hill elementary schools in Jeffersonville could close after next school year.

A proposal to do so is forthcoming, according to an email sent to the school board by Supt. Andrew Melin. He intends to provide details on the possibility at next month's school board.

This is all very new, but already the first salvos have been fired in a war of words sure to escalate.

So just stop. Don't do that to the kids — you know, the ones education is supposed to be about.

They don't need to hear parents teeing off at home.

They don't need to go to school and overhear teachers debating the merits of the plan.

Truth is, none of us yet knows enough to have a nuanced opinion.

Anytime the closing of a school is put on the table for consideration emotions ramp up.

Reasons for this are not unfounded.

After all, we become attached to the brick-and-mortar buildings where our children learn and grow.

Big brother and big sister may have attended the targeted school, where they flourished.

The school may be tucked into a neighborhood, close to its families so kids can walk to classes or jump on their bikes. Even if they arrive by car, it's a short trip, minutes unencumbered by clogged traffic and long commutes experienced by students who are transported some distance to school.

And that transportation to a school across town can prove challenging for low-income families whose access to vehicles may be limited.

Neighborhood schools also provide playgrounds accessible to kids during non-school hours, benefiting apartment dwellers with no yard in which to play kickball or tag or shoot hoops.

All of that makes sense. So does educating our children in nice environments and giving them equal access to unique learning programs.

Sometimes, older school buildings seem more like dungeons. They aren't welcoming places, and they lack the ability to house new coursework based in technology or equipment or space.

Their utility inefficiencies oftentimes grab dollars from the hands of educators as if the paper money were burned for fuel.

That's anti-learning. It doesn't help our kids.

School officials, though, must make their case to parents, to teachers, to the school board as to why closing two elementary schools is in the best interest of students. There must be good reasons to do so.

The decision-making process should be open and plans transparent. It'll help people understand and contribute to a healthy dialogue.

Moving students to new buildings — possibly Northaven and Bridgepoint elementary schools, both undergoing improvements — may be an idea worth considering.

Before we engage in that discussion, though, let's check our emotions at the door. We're supposed to be the grownups in the room. And it really is — or should be — all about the kids.

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas.

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