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Leader Editorial

Communication failure

December 15, 2010 - If we were going to give Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling and the Oxford Board of Education a letter grade regarding their communication with the public, it would be a big, fat F.

Skilling gets an F for trying to keep his participation in a superintendent search in Granville, Ohio a secret.

"Since I was meeting with (the) Granville Exempted Village School Board privately, I thought it would be kept confidential until I made a decision whether or not to pursue it," he wrote in a Dec. 5 e-mail.

Where's the transparency in that?

Skilling gets another F for his failure to comment to the Leader before and after we broke the story on-line Dec. 3.

We realize the superintendent doesn't like this newspaper because we opposed his first bond proposal, have criticized his cooperation with the Chinese government and did not endorse either of the school board incumbents in the last election.

However, that's no excuse for waiting until the Dec. 6 school board meeting to make any public statements regarding the Granville issue. That's no excuse for Skilling telling his administrators that he wouldn't be discussing the issue with the local media. The public had a right to know what was going on right when the story broke, not three days later.

Skilling deserves a third and final F for the way he informed people that he won't be pursuing the job in Granville.

Rather than making a public statement via this newspaper or the school district's website, Skilling sent a Dec. 12 e-mail informing only district staff of his decision.

Fortunately, we were able to obtain a copy of this e-mail through one of our many sources. How sad that we had to go through a third-party in order to inform the public of what their superintendent had decided (see story on Page 1).

Skilling isn't the only one to blame here.

The Oxford Board of Education deserves a giant, red F because President Colleen Schultz failed to call the Leader and comment despite the fact that messages were left at her home, work and cell numbers.

Instead, the board chose to issue a Dec. 3 public statement via the district website that proclaimed Skilling was simply in Granville as a "professional courtesy."

There was no mention whatsoever that he was considered a "finalist" for the job, which means it was much more than a mere "professional courtesy."

We understand that the board may have been blindsided here. If that's the case, they should be honest about it. Just because Schultz apparently knew about Granville, doesn't mean the rest of the board did.

If anyone on the school board was taken by surprise or is angry with Skilling, they will never say so publicly because they don't view themselves as individuals elected to serve the people. Their first loyalty is to the 'team' and always making sure they present a united front. That isn't open government nor is it responsible government.

The school board also gets an F for failing to inform the public either through this newspaper or the district website that Skilling decided against pursuing the Granville job.

As elected officials, school board members have a duty to keep the public in the loop when it comes to issues, big and small.

Throughout this entire ordeal, it appears the board felt it more important to protect their superintendent and keep the rest of us in the dark. Wouldn't it be great if school boards remembered that they work for us, not superintendents. We vote for them to represent us, not the hired help.

Let's see, by our count that makes all F's for Skilling and the school board.

Doesn't seem like a world-class report card, does it? Maybe they all need summer school. CJC

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