Common sense will serve newly-elected public officials well. But newly-minted officials at the school board, who stepped into their roles at a July 15 meeting, were offered a carrot and a stick during their first USD 231 Board of Education meeting at work session.

First, they participated in an hour-long session designed to assist them in consensus building and team work followed by a 30-minute stern warning about the possibility of legal consequences if they step out of line.

Legal ramifications for not maintaining an employee’s or student’s privacy should be swift, though it’s unlikely the newly-elected board members would violate that trust. They are educated and informed citizens with common sense.

It’s a shame when elected officials are warned of possible legal consequences for wanting to represent taxpayers.

Several times during the almost-hour-long presentation given by the USD 231 attorney and a representative of the Kansas Association of School Board, board members were warned they could be sued and possibly abandoned to pay attorney fees on their own by the district’s insurance carrier.

It’s also the first time we recall such a public display of bureaucratic scare tactics.

While we do live in a litigious society, we can’t readily recall a lot of lawsuits against elected officials who operate with a modicum of common sense. It’s also fairly routine for public entities to have an insurance policy for the board as a whole, and as individuals.

We’re curious as to why board members would be told that the insurance carrier could potentially decide not to represent board members in a lawsuit.

Why? Is the district considered high risk? If so, we’re not aware of it; but it makes us curious as to why that warning was necessary.

Most likely having the district’s $200 an-hour-plus attorney try to turn inquisitive new members into sheeple was another attempt at USD 231’s administration to control.

However, we think board members bright enough, honest enough, and savvy enough to ask questions and expect answers; and dedicated enough to actually meet and talk with constituents, attempt to solve problems, and work to maintain the district’s quality teachers and academic excellence, are a blessing.

Not a curse.

We’re not scared of the new members. We’re thankful for the fresh ideas and diverse mindsets the new faces will bring.