I just finished reading the Record Gazette’s article “Beaumont school board approves re-districting trustee areas” by Julie Farren and I have a few thoughts.
First I want to praise Ms. Farren on a complete and precise report. After the December 10 meeting, where this subject was first presented to the board, I followed the Record Gazette and the Press Enterprise to see how it would be covered. There wasn’t anything reported until only a couple days before this latest meeting, a blog post by Craig Schultz on the Press Enterprise website.
I do need to clarify one point Ms. Farren made. She indicated I wanted to run for the school board in November. I have no plans at this time to run for the school board. I was trying to make the point that a parent with children in the district who was passionate about what was happening in the schools might want to run to make a difference while it still affected their children. I went on to argue that this parent may have to wait as long as 4 years to run and miss four years of their kid’s educational experience. I understand why Ms. Farren would believe that I was the passionate parent I was describing but I’m not the only one of us out here.
As the article correctly reported, I did ask the board to take it slow. I knew they would follow their attorneys’ advice and avoid bringing the issue to the voters. I understand they were concerned about the liability they would face if the voters turned down the change. I suggested they move forward with their plans and hold off implementing the new system for one election cycle. I ‘m not an attorney but I believe my proposal would protect them since their new map already shows equal geographic representation and their commitment to the new system, I believe, would alleviate any concerns by a court being presented with litigation against the district. I told them this would give the voters the opportunity to at least weigh in on the incumbents who would run for reelection and allow for board members elected in November to honor the wishes of the electorate.
I am concerned about having enough candidates passionate about running for the school board when you eliminate 40% of the pool from which to draw (60% in some years. I am worried that this is addressing a problem that doesn’t exist and may result in politicians dividing our community but there is another issue I am more concerned about.
Jim Love voiced this concern when he “told the board that this new voting system would take away his right to vote every two years and change it to every four years.” This is my biggest worry as well. This means as a parent, I may not be able to exercise my right to vote on the direction our district may be headed until after my child has left his or her current school or even graduated from high school.
We are allowing our governments at every level to encroach upon our rights and in many cases we are encouraging them to do so. I’ve always expressed my disappointment with our state and national governments and my helplessness to do anything about it but I have argued that there was still something we could do at the local level. I feel this week our school board has taken away many of the tools we have to influence the direction of our children’s future. I’m very disappointed.