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Our Opinion: A good alternative

February 26, 2001

It seems wise to keep alternative school kids on the industrial side of town. There are fewer distractions there, fewer things that foment trouble.

Frankly, trouble is something these kids have shown they have a fine knack for finding. Most either have been thrown out of regular high school, thrown out of continuation high school, been in serious trouble with the law, or all of the above.

So we praise the El Centro City Council for its decision, after a protracted debate, to overrule its staff and Planning Commission to allow the Imperial County Office of Education to build a new alternative school in an industrial area on the east side of El Centro, near the site of an existing alternative school.

And while we praise the council for its decision to allow the school to be built in an area where less mischief can be found, we also praise the council for placing conditions on the building of the school that the county Office of Education must meet, conditions that will keep the young folks as safe as possible from things in such an area that can harm them.

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While these teens have been in trouble, they are not throwaways. No one should be giving up on these young people. The city's conditions on the ICOE to allow the school to be built included that it indemnify and hold the city harmless for the issuance of permits associated with the school, that there be construction of a wall around the school and that there be the building of a gate to shut off an adjacent private roadway. The city required that the ICOE provide crossing guards for the students at the school, which will be on a portion of Ross Avenue where vehicles often are picking up speed. It also required that businesses locating within 1,000 feet of the school agree to specific requirements for the storage and handling of hazardous materials.

Most city councils are reluctant to go against their staffs and planning commissions, so the El Centro City Council deserves extra credit for this decision because it concerned the well-being of a group of young people many would classify as burdens on the community.

But if such young folks are ever going to straighten out, they need a good school in a safe area with few temptations and few distractions. Now they will have just that.

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