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Monday, March 10, 2008

Let's scrap mayoral appointment of school board members

Trenton Board of Education member Lisa Kasabach has reportedly handed in her resignation from that body.

Judging from what has occurred at school board meetings lately, one can only extrapolate that her resignation has something to do with the shenanigans that have been occurring regularly on the board, especially regarding controversy over the possible demolition of Trenton Central High School.

Ms. Kasabach was the lone voice of reason on a board that seemed hell-bent on moving in the direction of demolition, despite numerous public calls for the district to look at all possible solutions, including a renovation and preservation of Trenton’s austere, historical high school.

Her support of looking at all the options resulted in frequent public humiliation for Ms. Kasabach, who - along with members of the public who spoke out at recent meetings - was repeatedly dressed down by the rest of Trenton’s school board.

This is the same school board who couldn’t even coherently tell local reporters last week about what had occurred these recent meetings, where discussions of the fate of the high school indicated that the board was moving in a direction of demolishing most of the high school, despite public outcry against such a move.

Ms. Kasabach’s resignation and public attendance at these recent Board of Education’s public meetings has revealed the painful shortcomings of Trenton’s reliance on a school board appointed by the mayor.

That system has been called the lesser of two evils by some, who say an elected school board in a place like Trenton could result in some truly unqualified people being put in positions of power, resulting in only more issues for an urban school district that already suffers from its share of problems.

After observing these meetings, it seems obvious that the current system allows for little to no accountability on the Board of Education, and that it may be time for the City of Trenton to return to public elections of school board members.

Sure, a few bad apples may somehow get onto the board, but for the most part people who have little or no legitimate interest in serving on such a body would likely refrain from going through all of the trouble of running for election to such a body.

Republican state senators Leonard Lance, R-23, and Christopher Bateman, R-16, have recently proposed legislation that would move school board elections to November general elections – ensuring greater voter turnout – in addition to requiring a voter referendum that would determine whether the district would use a mayoral-appointment system or a regularly elected Board of Education.

If that bill passes, it will provide for a convenient avenue for Trenton to move towards the system of more accountability, and more board member interest in public opinion and the fate of Trenton’s school children.

1 comment:

Old Mill Hill said...

"In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards." -- Mark Twain (attributed)