Home Opinion Editorials Tired of 5J board's discord
Tired of 5J board's discord
It would require a considerable level of naívete on our part to expect the Baker School Board, after more than a year of regular acrimony, to suddenly embrace a spirit of unity.
We don’t expect, as the cliché goes, board meetings to conclude with a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.
Yet even after a period that included the vote to censure board member Kyle Knight, a failed attempt to recall board members Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson, and Knight’s lawsuit against the district (which was settled in December), we do expect more from our elected board members — on both sides of this ongoing dispute — than they demonstrated last week.
The occasion was the extension of Superintendent Walt Wegener’s contract. The board voted 3-2 to add one year to Wegener’s deal, which now continues until June 30, 2015.
Although we don’t think Wegener needs a three-year contract — two years offers him sufficient security — the board’s decision to tack on another year is not unreasonable.
The same can’t be said, though, for parts of the written performance evaluation of Wegener that Henderson and fellow board member Andrew Bryan compiled, and that they and Burroughs approved. Henderson and Bryan recommended in the report that the board extend Wegener’s contract through June 30, 2015. Burroughs, Henderson and Bryan voted in favor of that extension.
One passage in particular in the report seems to us unnecessary and inflammatory. In the section headlined “Additional Comments,” Henderson and Bryan wrote:
“Our strongest recommendation is for Walt to specifically disengage as much as possible from the ongoing pressures of board members with agendas, divergent philosophies of district administration, or lack of fundamental understandings with board function and administrative rules.”
In other words, Wegener ought to ignore the two board members — Knight and Jim Longwell, who aren’t mentioned by name and don’t need to be, so obvious is the inference — because they don’t agree with everything Wegener does.
Besides being bad advice, this recommendation insults residents of the district who support Knight and Longwell and expect them to act as effective representatives on the school board.
Which bears directly on our other complaint.
Knight and Longwell, though they voted against the motion to extend Wegener’s contract, did not participate in evaluating him.
Longwell declined to say why he didn’t do so.
That’s not acceptable — our elected officials have a responsibility to explain their actions, or inactions, to their constituents.
Knight at least offers an explanation, pointing out that during his nearly nine-month censure he didn’t receive Wegener’s weekly reports.
But that excuse rings hollow.
Knight has attended meetings during that time, and since he feels that he is sufficiently well-versed on district operations to vote against extending Wegener’s contract, he ought to be able to explain why.