Dear Editor:

Folks who know me well or even know me a little, realize that I am not shy about expressing my opinions and if I am passionate about an issue, will continue to advocate for that issue or cause with no hesitation. My mother used to say.. “That’s the Tucker side in me”.

The recent personal donation to the Jackson County jail project was generous and philanthropic. A quote in the article read “the community needs to step up because not addressing the jail is not an option”.

I would say that a higher priority would be that the community needs to step up to address the need for a new Bellevue elementary school. The issue to continue to allow young students to be educated in an outdated, inadequate building is also not an option. To continue to pour taxpayer money into the current building to try and just maintain, let alone improve the building in any a waste of resources.

I am the current President of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. This letter is NOT endorsed by the Foundation and is purely personal opinion on my part, but I mention the CFJC, as I have learned a great deal about the needs in our County because of the privilege of being a member on that Board. Jackson County has a high percentage of poverty. The Jackson County public schools teach, feed, mentor and provide enrichment programs for all their students including obviously, those who are low-income. 

During a presentation about the Grade Level Reading program in Jackson County, I was startled to learn that those that plan for future prison populations, look at the percentage of 3rd grade students who are not reading at a 3rd grade level. The statistic of that percentage  is used to predict future prison populations!  All the public schools in Jackson County participate in the Grade Level Reading program. 

My point of all these words is to express that yes, Jackson County needs a new jail, but more importantly Bellevue needs a new Elementary School to provide a much improved environment for the dedicated Bellevue Elementary school teachers to continue to provide a top notch education for these at risk students as well as all our students.

I would much rather vote for a new school than to vote for a new jail. In very general terms.....a new school is proactive....a new jail is reactive.

Lucy Zeimet