Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Keep representation

February 23, 2000

Dear Editor

I attended the local school board meeting that was held in the Vinland gymnasium on Feb. 14. At that meeting, I listened to the elegant, reasoned, and passionate discussion against one of the proposals presented to the school board. This proposal was for a change to the method of selecting school board members from its current, primarily geographical representative basis to an open, at-large selection process. I am writing to express my opinion on this matter.

I am adamantly against the proposal and favor the status quo method of selecting school board members (i.e., two each representative from the Baldwin, Vinland, and Marion Springs communities with one open, at-large seat). I sincerely believe that the advocates of change at this meeting failed to provide convincing arguments for this change. In their arguments, there were references to unfamiliar legislative acts and glittering generalities associated with promoting unity, eliminating divisiveness, and selecting the best-qualified candidates. However, the arguments lacked any specific reasons that favor this change. What are the specific educational issues and school policies decided by this board (chosen under the current board selection method) that were not in the best interest of the overall school district? What specific board decisions would have been altered for the betterment of the overall community by selecting all school board representatives at large? Why change the selection process if the current representative selection process is providing qualified board members who genuinely care about the education of all our children and are professionally performing their duties?

My world revolves around a little, six-year old girl who attends first grade at the Vinland Elementary School. Certain things are very important in her development, to include a strong family structure, a well-defined set of moral and religious values, and a high-quality education that will open opportunities for her future. I genuinely believe that the underlying foundation for her educational success is established at the elementary-level school, coupled with parental educational emphasis and involvement at home.

Thus, I believe that it is imperative to have school board representation from the Vinland community, as well as the Baldwin and Marion Springs communities, as currently is the status quo. I want representatives that are part of the Vinland community and, thus, know the people and understand the rural culture. I want representatives that have talked to the Vinland parents, the elementary school principal, the teachers and the students about their educational needs and concerns. I want representatives that have observed the classroom instruction and know about the curriculum. I want representatives that have actually seen the infrastructure conditions and needs of the school. I want representatives that have attended local school activities and events.

In essence, I want representatives from the Vinland community that can articulate the educational needs and perspective of the Vinland community at the school board meetings. I am sure that the parents in the other communities share this similar concern for representation. I genuinely believe that this dialogue among the representatives from all communities Baldwin, Vinland and Marion Springs ultimately results in sound school policies that promote the educational interests of all the children in the overall community.

In summary, I favor the current method of selecting school board members. The arguments in favor of change have yet to be convincing. The needs and perspectives of the various communities voiced through representation must have a place at the school board table. The proposed change has the potential to eliminate real representation from one or more of the communities. Rather than promoting unity, this proposed change would serve as a source of divisiveness. I commend the school board in tabling this proposal. Furthermore, I hope that this divisive proposal fails to receive the necessary signatures to be placed on a ballot.

Chuck Protasio
610 E. 1714 Road

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