The Wolf Branch School District took a few “hits” in the Sound-Off column in relation to recent damage at the middle school from mine subsidence. While the event is certainly unfortunate, and repairs could be costly, public buildings are no more immune from these kinds of events than commercial businesses or private residences. My understanding is that 15 years ago the district considered multiple options and chose to construct sections of the building so they move independently, probably the only real cost effective approach available to them.
I guess I find it disconcerting that some seem to think they need to find someone to “blame.” In the end, anyone who owns a building in St. Clair County has some risk of future subsidence damage. You, myself, and maybe even the persons calling into the Sound-Off.
My children went to Wolf Branch and I know first-hand that there is a special culture there. In fact, the residents of Swansea are blessed to have two great schools, Wolf Branch and High Mount School, both of which are a huge asset to our community. For years, people have sought homes in the district because of that culture and the education their children receive. In addition, that reputation helps to retain value in the homes they buy. Therefore, I am not that concerned as to how the district will handle this very real challenge. As they have taught numerous generations, I believe they will rise to the occasion.
I saw evidence of that on Sept. 14 and through the weekend as hundreds of parents and volunteers stepped forward and joined together to move the middle school classrooms into the elementary school building, getting everything ready for classes to resume on Monday. My reaction was, “Wow!” It is that kind of cooperative effort that makes me proud of our school and of our residents.
Michael W. Leopold is mayor of the village of Swansea.