On the occasion of the Salt Lake City Board of Education's recent vote to postpone the closures of two elementary schools by a year, we are moved to dust off our crystal ball, take a peek into the future and gaze into the past.

While this postponement appears necessary because the school board hasn't made boundary decisions to address the students who will be displaced by the closures of Lowell and Rosslyn Heights elementary schools, hopefully the affected families and school communities will use this time to help ensure a successful transition for students.

That's our hope, anyway. We fear, though, that some people will use the break to regroup for the bigger fight. The school board has offered a deferment, but we haven't heard of any talk of abandoning legal challenges. While people who objected to the school closures might stop attending school board meetings on a regular basis, we doubt we've heard the end of this issue.

Perhaps what's most unfortunate is that the school board, upon deciding which schools it would close, didn't plow through the boundary issue through the summer, or better yet, handle it in conjunction with the final vote on the closures. The task probably would have roused up more hard feelings in some quarters, but at least the job would be finished and there would be no need for a postponement, which will continue to tax an already tight budget.

Our fear is that some might view this postponement as a small victory in the larger battle. While it buys the school board and school communities some time to work through some difficult issues, it is merely postponing the inevitable.

It does not escape notice that school closures in the Granite School District have been handled fairly quietly and with far more cooperation. We believe the affected Granite school communities are every bit as involved and attached to their respective neighborhood schools, but the difference was process.

While Salt Lake's shared governance philosophy gives stakeholders a loud voice in school issues, the approach may cause some to perceive that procedures that enable stakeholders to give input also enable them to craft policy. That's the purview of the elected school board.

Granite stakeholders had their opportunities to speak out about school closures and respective boundary shifts. Instead of the school board asking committees to come up with closure scenarios, Granite officials brought closure scenarios to the affected school community councils. Administrators and school board members then helped families work through some of their concerns.

This is not to lift up the Granite District Board of Education at the expense of the Salt Lake City Board of Education. The Salt Lake school board has inherited community expectations — over-inflated in some quarters — regarding the stakeholders' role in policy making in the Salt Lake City School District.

Rather, it is an observation that school closures are painful, no matter how they are handled. Seemingly, one quick blow is preferable to a death by a thousand cuts.