Last night’s school board meeting had a lengthy agenda: well-deserved awards and recognition, public comment about a recent termination, and presentations on the performance of Lakeview Elementary and Whitewater Middle School, among other topics.
Considering the recent termination, one confronts this uncomfortable question: if determining the right course in an isolated employment matter is difficult, how is one to believe confidently that the district will properly oversee the conduct of an entire school (of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, for example)?
Some may be understandably concerned, even hurt, by a single action, but is it not more concerning to fail to act – or even to see the need for action – for hundreds of students in a building where so many are adrift?
One’s main concern should be, and in my case is, the environment of these schools.
Perhaps this is the district’s canary in the coal mine.
A few other remarks:
1. There’s no better part of a meeting than the recognition of genuine student accomplishment. A city fire truck was outside, and that’s always a welcome reminder of Whitewater’s endearing practice of taking successful students on a fire-truck ride through the city.
2. When the tiny (and ugly) Central Office building is crowded with attendees (as was true last night), someone from the district should be offering refreshments to those waiting outside.
A meeting of this (easily estimated) size would have been more comfortable in a larger space. Whitewater has a multi-million-dollar high school that looks better and accommodates more people than Central Office ever will.
Better still: a meeting in a large room allows everyone to see everyone else’s recognition; awards are a community matter even more than a board matter.
3. It’s agreeable to talk with one’s fellow residents. I had the pleasure of speaking with a senior-citizen attendee whose only purpose was to learn more about the district. Admirable. She had a pencil and tablet, and we talked before the meeting began about the changes over the decades in the city.
4. Presentations should be part of an online agenda, attached as documents. A proper open-government approach requires as much, and gives information to the whole community without the need for a public records request. Officials who would prefer fewer requests need only offer more information.