To the editor:
Dan Mansfield, president of the Tupper Lake Board of Education, read a statement at the beginning of the Nov. 5 Board of Education meeting. The public comment period is to be used for comments, not questions. Further, the statement said that questions regarding the capital budget and other budget matters will only be allowed during the state-required budget disclosure meetings.
Mr. Mansfield said the statement he read was for clarification and was not meant to refer to any specific incidence.
Of late, I am the only person who has posed any questions during the public comment period. The questions I have posed generally referred to whether the school district would be making information available to the community in an open forum, e.g., via the district website or the Tupper Lake Free Press. These questions included:
-Would the district be posting a summary of the capital budget project expenditures?
-Would the new website be posting the dates, times and locations of the Board of Ed meetings?
-Would the district be posting the application for the administrative variance?
-Would the district be posting the interim report for the administrative variance?
-Would the district be employing the surveying tools they identified in the administrative variance application to solicit input from the community as to their satisfaction-dissatisfaction with the alternative mode of administration at the middle-high school?
These questions were about communication between the school district and the community. True, these could have been posed as comments, but that does not form a dialogue. An answer to a question, whether that answer is yes or no, shows a commitment. On the other hand, comments can, and usually are, just ignored. In fact, the public comments are not even included in the Board of Education minutes.
The vision of the school district, posted on the homepage of the website, is a partnership of home school and community ... in other words, a collaboration. In the presentation at the same board meeting where the Board of Ed statement restricting what the community will be allowed to say during the public comment period, collaboration was identified as a key 21st-century skill, and that the ability to communicate was critical to that process.
It appears to me that the only part of the partnership the community is to have is to pay the bills.