Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents
Association are written by various members and
contributing non-members of the GRA.

   
EDITORIAL
School board must make the right decision on August 20th
June 12, 2007
   
On June 4th, the school board held its last meeting before going on summer hiatus, and took up a discussion on two requests by resident Guy Caron.  The first asks the board to change its meeting nights from the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month to the 1st and 3rd Thursdays to avoid conflicts with meetings of the board of selectmen, who hold their meetings every Monday night.  The second request was for the board to also move its meeting location from Goffstown High school over to Town Hall to provide live broadcasts of those meetings for interested residents.

Caron attended the meeting, and during the first public comment session (the school board schedules two public comments sessions on its agendas), Caron offered praise to the board for its recent decision to make meeting minutes and DVDs available in a much more timely manner than had been their previous practice.  That change also came at Caron's request.

Later during the meeting, the board discussed the proposed change in meeting days and location, but due to the absence of so many members decided to put off a decision until their next meeting, scheduled for August 20th.

It was disappointing to see so many school Board members missing that night - nearly half did not attend. 

But what was even more disappointing to us was School Superintendent Darrell Lockwood's adversarial attitude toward what we believe are two very reasonable requests.

During the second public comment, Lockwood first attempted to dismiss Caron's past assertion that providing timely access to minutes and DVDs was an important issue.  Lockwood stated that over the years he had only received a single request for minutes and school board meeting DVDs, implying that Caron alone was the only resident interested in what the school board is doing.

Caron quickly countered by asking Lockwood if he had any idea how many residents over the years have called the town library to obtain a DVD, or visited the town library to obtain a DVD, or visited the school's own website to read minutes or agendas. 

Lockwood admitted he didn't.  

But we believe Lockwood's point is irrelevant anyway.  Apparently he doesn't understand that even ONE request from a single taxpayer should have been enough to point out a flaw in the school board's previous policy for providing minutes and DVDs to residents.  Fortunately, the school board understood that on May 7th.

Lockwood then questioned Caron as to whether he had approached selectmen with the idea of moving their meetings to a different night instead of asking the school board to move their meetings. 

Caron said no, explaining that such a request would be unreasonable.  We agree.

Selectmen hold over 50 meetings a year, every Monday night.  There is no other night open to hold weekly meetings.  The school board, on the other hand, only meets twice a month (the 1st and 3rd Mondays) and takes the summer off.  They can easily reschedule their meetings to the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, which has no regularly scheduled meeting of any other board or committee in town.  This would provide residents with the ability to personally attend both selectmen meetings and school board meetings.  

We believe this is a necessary and important change, and must be implemented immediately.  The actions and decisions of selectmen affect every other board, committee and department in town, not to mention 1/3 of the budget.  The school board controls the remaining 2/3 of the budget.

The Board of Selectmen, Budget Committee, Zoning Board, Planning Board - even the Conservation Commission - all hold meetings that residents can attend, or watch, without missing any of the others.  Not so with the school board.

We believe taxpayers have the right to attend one meeting without giving up their right to attend the other.

We also agree with Caron's request that the school board move its meetings from the high school over to town hall.  This would allow for live broadcasts of their meetings as well.

No one is asking the school board to meet on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons.  The 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month are open to them.  So is the Mildred Stark room.

We are disappointed with Lockwood's apparent resistance to promoting openness and public involvement in his SAU, but we certainly can understand it:  If we were leading an SAU that once again yielded SAT scores well below the national average, we might not want to take steps to keep the public better informed and involved either. 

We believe it is the right of every taxpayer to be afforded the chance to attend 100% of the meetings that affect 100% of their tax dollars.  

The school board can easily make these changes if they choose to.

We're looking forward to their decision on August 20th.  

 


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  Copyrightę 2007, Goffstown Residents Association.  All Rights Reserved.


 

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Copyrightę 2007, Goffstown Residents Association.  All Rights Reserved.