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School problem: blame administration, school board



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May 05, 2010 - Dear Editor,

For those of you who have never witnessed the finely tuned wheels of school government in action, I urge you to attend a school board or committee meeting. I recently attended a finance committee meeting where the school superintendent's contract renewal was to be discussed. I was expecting edge of the seat action and heavy-handed negotiation tactics; not so.

Brandon Superintendent Lorrie McMahon told the board she was willing to give up 5 percent of her benefit package, approximately $8,000. This was met by wide-eyed amazement and downright giddiness by the board members. Their appreciation was evident, it was like sitting at a table of bobblehead dolls in a breeze!

When public comment was taken, I asked McMahon and the board if they could give me reasons why this employee should have her contract renewed. Somewhere in the room I heard a lonely cricket chirp! I forged ahead and asked if they thought 5 percent was adequate, as many people were taking what amounts to 10-15 percent cuts. So much for leading by example! These questions were answered only by soul-piercing stares of disbelief and disdain. Even the cricket bailed out on me! (Darn that grade school teacher of mine who convinced me that there are no such thing as stupid questions). Quickly the board rallied themselves and returned to their feeling of delight at McMahon's generosity and overall excellent performance for the district. The feeling of calm and goodwill towards man re-entered the room after my misguided, though innocent, interruption.

I had been under the impression that, as the transportation department were getting our kids safely and on time to their destinations, they did not deserve to take large financial cuts. When I go to any of the district facilities, they are very well maintained and all of the utilities seem in order. The service and maintenance staff have been doing their part as asked. Should they take a large cut in pay? Do either of these deserve to lose their jobs to outsourcing? From my experience, I feel the teachers are doing an excellent job. I have yet to meet a parent who has said differently. Why punish them?

Can we blame anyone other than our school board and administration for our current problems? To quote McMahon, "we only tell these people what we want them to hear." This attitude is condoned by the board. Who is in charge here? It seems as though the tail is wagging the dog! I again quote McMahon, "They don't understand it like we do."Bingo! We don't understand why you have been so fiscally irresponsible.

Patrick O'Shea

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