The Menominee Board of Education is preparing to appoint a citizens task force to study the physical needs of the school district. We think the formation of a task force involving citizens-at-large is a positive step. We also suggest citizens communitywide should brace themselves for a millage vote to finance their recommendations.

Although the task force will be prioritizing the overall needs, the school board will make the final decision on what to accept and establish the size of any potential millage vote.

Creating a task force and getting community residents involved in the process is a wise move by the school board. It reminds us of what a task force did for the Menominee district way back in the 1960s and in following years when citizens approved special millage for physical improvements.

In the mid-1960s, the school board asked voters to support a $4.1 million bond issue, which called for a larger high school, a new elementary school (Roosevelt) and an addition to the Central Elementary School. Can you imagine getting such buildings erected today for $4.1 million? Although the former Roosevelt School was sold to the DAR Boys & Girls Club and put to good use, the high school (and junior high students) now are housed in the same building and Central Elementary continues to serve the district well.

The special millage election in the 1960s was headed by Robert Freeman, school superintendent, who crafted one of the most aggressive and well-planned millage campaigns in the history of the district. He involved just about every segment of society in the campaign, from the rural communities (Farm Bureau) to labor unions, fraternal organizations, religious groups, business leaders, students and others. A special task force put together a plan, the school board made its decision and Mr. Freeman, working with his administrative staff and faculty, plugged in their comments.

For example, a big selling point in Freeman’s playback was getting the parochial school system involved in the public school lunch program, and expanding bus transportation in the rural areas.

We realize times, faces and education needs have changed dramatically in the Menominee school district vs. some 55 years ago, but the fundamental keystone is still in place, and that is to get citizens in all walks of life involved in any major project.

John Mans, current superintendent of schools, seems to have a good handle on the importance of citizen involvement. He says the goal of a task force will be to look at the physical needs of the facilities and let the citizens of the community make the decision on priorities. It is a good road map for success.

Generations of parents and children come and go. The rigors of education change, too. Buildings and equipment need upgrades just like they do in homes, factories and business places. Plus, the local economy is in pretty good working order right now.

We like the way the school board and administration is going about the task of community involvement. It’s a bit early to be placing bets, but we think the Menominee public school leaders are heading in the right direction.