School district patrons have complained about lack of communication by the USD 231 administration and Board of Education, and the difficulty in addressing the board. The Gardner News e mails requesting information regarding patrons’ concerns were ignored.
At the November meeting about 60 parents addressed the board, and due to COVID policy, were asked to remain in their vehicles before being allowed  inside; at the following December meeting, the board tightened the public comment policy, limiting speakers to five minutes if less than 12 speakers; if more than 12, the time limit would be three minutes. The motion was made by Robin Stout, seconded by Tresa Boden. Those voting ”yes” were: Tresa Boden, Rob Shippy, Shawn Carlisle, Brandon Parks, Robin Stout. ”No” vote was Lana Sutton. Kristen Schultz was absent.
Many districts surveyed do not have a defined policy, according to the staff report at the December meeting.
When the policy was updated it was to be posted; but  a review of the website May 3, indicated links were broken or non existent.
The May 3 agenda was posted over the weekend, but that leaves a small window of time for patrons to fill out a required comment card, and the form was not available online.
Two e mails by The Gardner News sent to all board of education members were not answered. This is another recent complaint of district patrons — no response.
It shouldn’t be so hard for taxpayers to contact their elected officials. Although e mail addresses are now at least listed on the website, it doesn’t help if board members chose not to respond.
Patrons’ concerns, suggestions and complaints are not acknowledged. Not even a simple, “Thank you for contacting me,” from board members.
If the district’s officials don’t want to be bothered with patrons’ concerns, why did they run for elected office? Yes, we know it has been a long, tedious and patience-breaking year — but that speaks for everyone, not just board members.
Dealing with irate patrons is nothing new, those in customer service do it every day. It’s a basic part of any job.
To not reply to patrons concerns is disrespectful. Patrons deserve more accountability and transparency from board members.
The only way patrons can change the boards’ “secrecy” culture is to stay vigilante, organize and continue to demand accountability.
And to register, research and vote.
And those who serve in public office need to remember who they serve, and then find their voice.