Thank you for your reasoned and somewhat emotionless editorial Friday, “Schools Must Keep Public Informed.”
I agree completely with your assertion that “the lack of meaningful explanation will inevitably undercut public support.” I have been a strong supporter of Mr. Casey O’Brien and this school board as they continue to struggle with unprecedented challenges in our public education system. But I was shocked, and extremely disappointed with the manner in which they attacked the recent challenge of the $1.2 million budget shortfall, in what appears to be a quick, ill-advised decision.
From your same day article, “No way around cuts to teaching positions,” Mr. O’Brien states he made his decision after “taking input from suggestion boxes at various school sites” (easily biased), and “culling opinions of various advisory boards” (which ones, and who is on them?).
In what could be argued the most impactful decision ever made by a Payson school board, this board announced the fateful meeting on a Saturday, and acted on Mr. O’Brien’s recommendation the following Monday, without a word of discussion.
Mr. O’Brien’s defense of this process is found late in your article, “Difficult decisions are sometimes best made expediently, to minimize emotion.” I believe difficult decisions in the arena of public education should rarely be made expediently, and never just to minimize emotion. The recent decision was certainly made “coldly,” as one board member says he likes to operate, but delivered to the public even colder.
This superintendent and board needs to appreciate that there are many in our community who can offer support, information, and perspective, while controlling our emotions.
In the future, I sincerely hope this board will become more transparent with the public they are elected to serve. This would encourage more broad-based input, which would give them a more accurate assessment of our district. At the very least, it would assure us that they spend more time on difficult decisions than the 30 minutes we witnessed Monday.