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Does board have an ‘agenda’ (09/16/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

There is an interesting debate going on among the members of the Dist. 861 school board, and some of the district’s administrators.

The question is, should school board members be members of various school district committees. In particular, should school board members be on the committee charged with cutting $500,000 per school year for the next three years.

It is feared, according to board chair Greg Fellman and Supt. Scott Hannon, that if an elected school board member sits on a district committee, which will be made up of administrators and teachers, that board member may bring an “agenda” to the proceedings.

This brings to the fore a couple of questions. Number one, why would a board member elected by the taxpayers in Dist. 861 to be their representative not have an agenda—to uphold the desires of the public in the operation of a public, taxpayer-supported school system? And number two, how are teachers and administrators able to represent themselves as coming to the table with no agenda?

Let’s start with number two. It is fact that the teachers and administrators of Dist. 861 are union members, and those unions have as—do we dare call it—an agenda to secure for themselves the sweetest pay and benefits package that they can negotiate. Wouldn’t this seem to bring a certain bias to any district committee deciding where to make budget cuts? I would certainly think so.

Now let’s get to number one. Is it not true that when the public elects governmental representatives, it is with the hope that the elected official will act in the best interests of the public, and the school children who will attend public schools? Isn’t it also true that, since the biggest expense of a school district is payroll, that decisions made by the employees of the school district might be in direct opposition to the wishes of their bosses—the public and their elected officials?

I am constantly amazed that we elevate people to public office, to represent us as the bosses of a public government—the city, the county, the state, the union—who then immediately turn around and become the champions of the employees of that body, rather than the champions of the public who put them into office.

It is disappointing that our school board members do not value the needs and wishes of the public enough to advocate for them. Instead, the board seems to have become a bunch of mealy-mouthed minions who bow reflexively to their employees, principally the superintendent, who should serve the wishes of the board.

C’mon, school board, get in there and do your job. No one elected you to be a rubber-stamper. You proclaim yourselves ignorant of the principles of public education, ignorant of what knowledge children need to master to become good members of a democratic society after graduation. Well, it is incumbent upon you as our representatives to LEARN what you need to know.

You get paid (not enough) to make intelligent decisions for us. Start taking your charge seriously. Start representing our side in this discussion, not Supt. Hannon’s. 


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