February 6, 2016

School board should make public feel more welcome

It was a full house at school district’s board meeting Aug. 20.
Dozens of patrons attended, but did not address the board during the public part of budget hearing.
After a brief period, the board unanimously approved the budget with no discussion. However, the board did hear a budget presentation during a prior meeting and it has been published in The Gardner News, as required by state statute.
The more than $30 million budget maintains last year’s mill levy rate.
Patrons commented after the meeting that it was difficult to hear board members and directors’ reports due to a poor audio system. There were also concerns that the patrons were “evacuated” from the board meeting while six board members met in executive session and ate pizza.
And as usual, no one spoke during the public input portion, maybe because persons wanting to address the board are required to fill out a comment card first and because they are unfamiliar with meeting protocol.
Requiring comment card sign in can be intimidating for persons who would feel more comfortable speaking spontaneously, and there has been a marked decrease in public participation at school board meetings since that policy was implemented.
Although this policy may be more convenient for board and staff, it may not be the best policy to increase taxpayer participation.
It’s encouraging to see better public attendance at the board meeting, and it’s important the board “step up to the plate” to encourage public involvement.
From public comments heard after the meeting, there are several ways to accomplish this:
• Publish the agenda and previous, unapproved minutes several days in advance online.
• Have copies of the directors reports available at the meeting for patrons to read or make the reports available online for patrons to read.
• Turn the audio system on so the public can hear.
• Have directors stand to read to present their reports or step to the podium.
• Determine if a police officer is needed for safety, or whether the inclusion intimidates rational public discourse.
• Don’t “evacuate” the board chambers during executive session; board members should move to another room; and while munching on pizza may encourage camaraderie between members, it also appears cozy and excludes the public.


  1. Judith Rogers says:

    During my last years of working I never could understand when emloyees would get to the office right at 8 o-clock or even late most days with their breakfast in hand and then sit there and eat their breakfast on the time clock or perhaps where they would have a gabfest lasting perhaps 1/2 hour or more and all again on the time clock and all of this being done before they even begin to think about WORKING. And what the worst thing that I noticed is management allowing this to go on day after day after day after day and many of these people, doing the no-work thing and their supervisors, getting the big raises and the bonuses……….go figure……..as I have said many times before, I cannot for the life of me understand the moral compass of many (so many have totally lost their moral compass, that is if they ever had one) or how their priority system works.

    Board members munching on pizza is what I have seen for years at the Gardner City Hall and I just love it, especially when I know I am helping to pay for it all. And then when these very same jaybirds won’t answer your questions and are continually giving you the bird, then you do have to wonder where it will all end. Also when the politicians come out of the back room with the thieves who are there to get their sweet deals and only then do the meetings begin, then I am reminded of how arrogant and slimy the politicians and bureaucrats have become but, of course, it is due to the citizens who go along with all of this conniving and manipulation and plain rotten government and that is because so many of them operate in the same manner.

  2. Sollicitus Civis says:

    Many of the citizens that attended the recent board meeting put aside their personal commitments, to include dinner with their family, in order to attend the USD 231 meeting. The meeting is held once a month. I think that the board can go a couple of hours without eating, especially when you have a large group waiting. They went into executive session, gave the attendee’s a time, and then extended it twice. They overspent their time just like they do with the budget. If nothing else, the appearance of them eating, while the public is standing by, is wrong and shows poor judgment.

    While important, these issues are diminutive in comparison of the real issues plaguing out district. Doing the right thing has to start somewhere and it has to start now with the small things. The larger issues will be addressed as time passes.

  3. jthall1990 says:

    “Although this policy may be more convenient for board and staff, it may not be the best policy to increase taxpayer participation.”

    They do not want taxpayer participation which is why they instituted the sign-in card policy.

  4. Judith Rogers says:

    Politicians tell you the cost will be $90 MILLION but it ends up costing you $332 MILLION and they will shuffle the dollars however they well please……………you never know how much money you have where and our local school district and city governments are pros at the conniving and manipulation…………….


  5. Judith Rogers says:

    Another LLC who is taken care of by Brownback while he sticks it to the average citizens who are about the only ones paying taxes……….the rubber stampers are everywhere you turn and the thieves know it too……………


  6. Judith Rogers says:

    Rodney reminds me of Phill Kline………..the jaybirds in the world never want to be held accountable…………..”it’s not my fault”……………


  7. So, Judith, are you saying it’s not your fault that you posted anonymously all those years and refuse to acknowledge now?

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    Wonder when Brownback will be saying NO to $450 MILLION federal tax dollars for those in Kansas who need some food……………..those standing in line for their food stamps don’t have a LLC after their name I would presume……….those LLC outfits stand in line to get their “farm” appraisals so they can avoid paying their property taxes and they have already got their sweet deal from Brownback where they don’t have to pay any state income taxes………..

    More Kansans, Americans on food stamps
    Wichita Business Journal
    Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 8:02am CDT

    The number of Kansans who use SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has reached 310,700, up from 184,000 five years ago, and federal government spending in Kansas has grown from $190.3 million to $450 million.

    According to a Kansas Health Institute News Service story that appears in the Lawrence Journal-World, some in Congress are attempting to scale back the program. The U.S. Senate has passed a five-year Farm Bill that would reduce SNAP spending by $4.5 billion over 10 years, and the agriculture committee in the House passed a larger reduction, $16.5 billion. It’s unclear exactly how the changes would impact Kansas.

  9. Judith Rogers says:

    Better have a good paying job after you have received your sports education so you can afford to go back to work after having a child. Going to cost you about a Grand a month for child care here in Kansas.


    Report: Kansas is among least-affordable states for infant care
    Kansas City Business Journal
    Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 7:54am CDT

    Kansas came in as the fifth least-affordable state for infant care in a new report.

    The average 2011 cost of center-based infant care in the state is $11,023, which comes out to 14.7 percent of the state median income for a two-parent family. Kansas tied with Hawaii and trailed No. 1 New York, Minnesota, Oregon and Colorado in the rankings, according to the “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care” report from Child Care Aware of America.

    On average, full-time child care for an infant in Missouri came with an $8,580 price tag, the St. Louis Business Journal reports.

    Missouri ranked as the 27th least-affordable state for full-time infant care in a center.

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