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Linglestown Gazette: Testy times at CD School Board meeting

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Testy times at CD School Board meeting

Updated at 1:30 pm ...

Last night's Central Dauphin board meeting was civil but sprinkled with pointed comments between teachers, Superintendent-to-be Carol Johnson, School Board President Ford Thompson and board Vice President Jay Wenger over the planned 74 teacher furloughs.

Prior to the board approving a preliminary final budget for the 2012-13 school year, Thompson said teachers could have avoided furloughs by agreeing to not take a pay hike.

Wenger and Thompson mentioned multiple times that 18 public meetings had been held on the budget since last September. In my opinion, they don't understand that they did not overtly reach out to the community with information about this year's budget crisis.

By the time The Patriot-News caught up with the story, it was too late for the public to have an impact on next school year's budget.

The most interesting comment was made by Wenger about the public not showing up for 7 a.m. finance meetings. I guess he was trying to offer evidence that he and other board members and administrators went beyond the call of duty to work on the budget.

Wenger made it clear that the district's financial crisis isn't over and the issues that resulted in massive layoffs this year will be revisited next year.

"In the prior four years we have cut approximately $20 million of expenses from the operating budget in an attempt to not get to this point," he said. "We are here and it's not going away."

It's clear to me that the solution to the school funding crisis is going to involve state lawmakers taking action. What's happening in CD is taking place across the state. 

On a related issue, the board appears to do most of its heavy lifting during their mysterious, behind-closed-doors executive sessions held before each public meeting.

I attended the last three board meetings and none of them had a vigorous debate among members on an agenda item. The only board members that speak on issues are Thompson and occasionally Wenger.

Moving forward, a group of citizens needs to come together with the goal of forcing the board to let the sun shine on their activities and to engage the public on important issues. That will require school officials going beyond posting information on the district's website and merely meeting state requirements for public notice.
Related links:

WHTM abc27 — CD approves teacher cuts, pink slips sent to wrong employees

The Patriot-News — CD School Board approves proposed budget with furloughs, tax hike

CD website — Budget information



At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well written.


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