EDITORIAL: Shaping the future

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Community Development Foundation’s official involvement in helping community participants shape an action plan to stop and reverse middle class population loss and erosion in the performance of the Tupelo Public Schools matches urgent need with CDF’s long history of assessment and problem-solving.
City Council President Fred Pitts said this week he hopes CDF’s commitment to act as a facilitator through its research capacity about economic development issues, which are directly linked to neighborhood quality and school performance, will help reduce the politics involved in the formulation of solutions.
A special task force, which is still being formed, will work with CDF’s staff, the City Council, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and others to quickly develop a plan that could be ready for presentation by March 22 to the council, followed soon after by a larger community meeting.
Mayor Reed’s All America City plan includes two key goals – neighborhood revitalization accomplished through several initiatives and a guarantee of state university tuition for every qualified Tupelo High graduate. These stand at the heart of what will be discussed. Development of proposals, however, isn’t confined to those ideas. CDF’s membership encompasses knowledgeable and successful business leaders, and their perspectives will be brought to the process.
CDF’s reputation for deliberateness and thoroughness is proven. Its imprint is found on every successful venture for community education and quality of life for the past 63 years.
Several proposals have been floated generally in the past six weeks for neighborhood strengthening and school improvement; CDF’s assistance should produce solidly grounded and researched proposals representing strong grounds for consensus and action, with expansive community participation.
A groundswell of interest developed in January when the U.S. Census released preliminary data detailing Tupelo’s population and income stagnation since 2000 – and a flow of middle class families into northern Lee County, especially Saltillo, Guntown and the public schools in those communities. The development is inarguably positive for Lee County and its communities outside Tupelo, but Tupelo remains the central source for jobs, tax revenue, and services, which provide thousands of jobs.
If Tupelo were growing at the same pace as the rest of Lee County the positive impact would be multiplied for everyone. Time is short, but intense work by selfless people matched with facts and visionary planning will produce results. Tupelo needs open-minded, fair-minded patience from its citizens in the time until best-choice options are agreed on.