Anger management and the Board of Ed

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorAt the Jan. 13 meeting of the Board of Education School Superintendent David Title proposed a 3.29% budget increase. The Board then passed a $5,486,770 additional capital spending request. Hours later a fractured 5-4 majority voted to amend BOE bylaws, imposing unprecedented limits on the public’s ability to speak at meetings, and censuring individual Board members from requesting factual data from Central Office. The vaguely-worded language appears to leave these two fundamental democratic rights to the sole discretion of two people, Dr. Title and Board Chairman, Phil Dwyer. Voting to approve were: Dwyer (D), Convertito (R), Gerber (D), Patten (D) and Maxon-Kennelley (D). Not in favor were Karnal (D), Llewellyn (R) Liu-McCormack (R) and Fattibene (R). The meeting ran until 2 a.m. These four actions are and should be closely related in the eyes of parents, taxpayers and the voting public.

I’m on the RTM Finance Committee. We count things. But I think it was Albert Einstein who said, “Not everything that is counted counts.” We must take into account not only the numbers requested for next year’s budget expenditures and capital debt — but the process, the soundness of rationale and supporting facts behind those numbers.

I wonder if School Board Members voting for those repressive bylaw amendments believe it will inspire public trust, or help build confidence of other town boards in the numbers they present for our approval this spring? If they suppress legitimate parental concern and tie the hands of their own members attempting to make honest inquiries — what does that say about regard for the public they serve? I believe a third amendment got tabled, a possible violation of Roberts Rules. It required only a simple majority to pass these sweeping changes but a supermajority to repeal them. What does that say about regard for democratic principles, and for future Boards of Ed serving after this one?

My advice to angry parents and public who watch this on Fair TV: Don’t get angry. Vote accordingly. Five seats on the Board of Ed will be up for election this November.

Ellen Jacob, RTM Representative, District 9

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