Hiding from the public

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 11:16 p.m.

I had great hopes that our new School Board members would get down to business and start the process of balancing the school populations on the east and west sides of town; following through on the strategic plan; and discussing major issues at board meetings during hours when most people can attend.

I had decided that the new board deserved six months to get settled in without adverse comments. However, since it hasn't even named a community group to get started on rezoning yet, all bets are off.

Here's what happened at the recent meeting:

Chair Jeanne Cawthon reversed her two-year commitment to the public and her previous refusal to meet in conference room E - a room that is not accessible to the handicapped - as opposed to the regular board meeting room.

The board scheduled an informal meeting in conference room E from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 28. It also decided that the regularly scheduled board meeting of Feb. 4 would be moved from 7 p.m. to 2 p.m. to accommodate schedules.

Both of these items are outrageous. Although technically they are allowed under the Sunshine Law, they don't carry out the spirit of it. Neither meetings will be held at an hour convenient to the public.

What is an informal meeting with no agenda? And why in a room where handicapped people can't attend?

The same thing is happening that has happened in the last eight years. The board discusses an issue in conference room E at an inappropriate hour, then doesn't discuss it at a board meeting, and then justifies it by saying that no one comes to the public hearings.

Well, there's a very very simple reason: The public has no idea what the issue is.

School Board members need to get on with the really important issues facing them, instead of hiding from the public.

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