A flurry of last minute e mails finally garnered an answer to questions regarding policies/procedures followed by the USD 231 board of education;however, it took an additional e mail from the newspaper, and several follow ups, to get information regarding board agendas and patron comment cards.
It shouldn’t be so difficult to obtain information from the district, and we understand patrons’ frustration. In the end, not all BOE members responded; at least one BOE member, and one administrator responded as if annoyed; and two others were professional and courteous.
Information providing website links first came from the newest member, Brandon Parks. He explained that he was still learning the process as training was delayed due to COVID. He also indicated his understanding that board meetings were not so patrons could discuss agenda items; as the BOE, as elected officials, they were there to make decisions.
Ben Boothe, community information, asked for a correction from last week’s article. Boothe said website links for patron comment cards were not broken as stated in the article, rather the administration deliberately disconnects them so patrons who wish to comment aren’t disappointed that they can’t submit a card for the evening’s meeting.
We stand corrected, but we are appalled the district would disconnect the link, and delay the agenda – especially for a meeting regarding the mask mandate. It seems a bit disingenuous to parrot transparency, then hold an agenda until the weekend, then disconnect the comment link at noon on Monday.
We thought patrons are the ones who pay the taxes.
Patrons, and this newspaper, are not out of line to ask questions, and we shouldn’t be “shamed” or stalled. Something is wrong with the district’s culture, from the top down. It’s ripe with paranoia and secrecy. Anyone who questions is silenced. And the management style promotes it by separating board members from public input by funneling all information thru a few key people, or committees, — the administration “controls” the message and sanitizes the information.
Repeatedly we were told to make a “simple phone call,” as opposed to e mail, but we prefer a record of what’s said, so everyone is on the same page.
Had a BOE member or administrator simply have answered the original question, a lot of time could have been saved.
We encourage patrons to make their concerns known to board members, or if that is too frustrating or you are concerned with retaliation, continue to contact The Gardner News.
We appreciate your support.