REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Sandusky school board needs to listen

The Sandusky school board has gone out of its way to occasionally host public forums with the community, but its policy of requiring
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

The Sandusky school board has gone out of its way to occasionally host public forums with the community, but its policy of requiring residents to submit a written request a full week before a school board meeting to reserve speaking time borders on absurd.

It is impossible for residents to even know what is on the agenda before requesting to speak, thus effectively denying public comment on any action the board might take. Absurd indeed.

Do grocery stores require customers to submit shopping lists a week in advance, before those customers even know what's on sale or what they might need?

While other districts encourage public participation, and comments, at board meetings, Sandusky Schools insists on controlling the message and only allowing public comment until a week, or more, after the important decisions affecting all of our children are made.

We've encouraged Sandusky Schools in this space before to reach out to the community and give residents ample opportunity to bring forth their questions and concerns, yet this board seems insistent on doing the opposite.

Even some board members have recognized the folly that is the week-in-advance commenting policy.

"Seven days may be a little too long," said Sandusky board member and community relations liaison Tracy Shoemo.

Ironically, the district's treasurer, Kevin Robertson, was quoted in a Register story last week as saying how important it is for the board to communicate with the public about the financial hardships the district is facing with state cutbacks.

"I think that we really have to be communicating a lot with our voters that school funding isn't fixed because (the state is) not giving us the money," Robertson said.

Yet, when it comes to "communicating" with the board, it takes a week or more to do so?

We challenge the incoming superintendent to take a hard look at the public commenting policy and take the necessary steps to improve communication between the board and the community, not inhibit it.