Letter to the Editor

School board memberís question about job descriptions should have been answered

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Dear Editor,

At a recent school board meeting, as reported in the Courier News, a board member asked what seemed to be a rather innocuous, yet probative question of the district school superintendent.

Her question, which concerned job duty assignments for district employees, almost instantly triggered what seemed to be thinly veiled calumnies to be hurled about by some of the more doctrinaire board members, who obviously opposed her asking the question.

It seems to me proper disclosure should dictate that a school board member would be able to ask, and fully expect to receive timely, concise, and courteous answers to their inquiries from school administrators.

After all, arenít board members elected by the districtís citizens to do just what this member as attempting to do? To ask questions in an effort to perform district oversight!

When one considers the abrupt changes the school board soon made to what its inferred spending priorities would be (teacher and employee pay raises) after lobbying for and getting a hefty tax increase; oversight now seems to be a concept lost to some of its members.

To castigate or patronize or otherwise disparage a board member for simply trying to fulfill their official duties to the community and their constituents, is repugnant.

If a board member seeks information detailing the formal listing job responsibilities for district employees, it is well within the purview of their office to do so.

Any responsible board member should reasonably expect a written, coherent personnel policy to be a perfunctory responsibility of a schools administration.

Information regarding school district policies, or the lack there of, should be readily obtainable by any board member for use to aid them in making informed decisions regarding school district matters.

They should never be forced to wait an interminable amount of time only to finally be told, in what seemed a rather flippant manner by a school administrator that he, in effect, had never intended to reply to their request to begin with.

If the superintendent will not comply with a reasonable request for relevant information from an elected school board member, he should be reminded he is an employee of the district, and not an elected official of the district. He is not an independent arbiter in such matters.

It seems odd, to begin with, that a seasoned school administrator or a long serving school board member could not appreciate the value of formulating a coherent personnel policy for use as an administrative tool.

I believe most would agree that a school districtís citizens, and its students are much better served by administrators and elected officials who remember to comport themselves as mature, well meaning, and professional people.

They should work to seek consensus at their meetings, rather than confrontation.

Recently, an independent, professional school rating website, which provides ratings data used by many parents who are moving to new communities, used data taken from 2017 school year to rate the 248 school districts her in Arkansas.

The Blytheville School District was rated at number 233 of the 248 Arkansas school districts. The same website had rated several other Mississippi County school districts ahead of the Blytheville School District.

Among those districts are the Osceola School District, which was rated at 227. The Manila School District was rated number 80. The Gosnell School District was rated number 68, and the Armorel School District was rated number 22 of 248 Arkansas school districts.

I donít like to sound flippant, but do the math.

ó Ron Evans

Blytheville