Question, "What do you think the job of a Board of Education member is?" Please address the following:
1. What power does the position convey?
2. What is the best use of that power?
3. To whom is the Board of Education member responsible?
In summing up my impressions of the candidates' forum, I want to look through the lens of these questions, which I asked the candidates to respond to in the Spring.* The reason I asked these particular questions is that I feel that there has been a trend away from transparency and responsiveness, and that the process has shifted towards power being centralized from the top down.
I don't think that's healthy. I also don't think that's what the statute dictates, either.
Where things stand: board members Giles, DeLacy, and Siddiqui will remain. I want to be honest that I do not know much about Ms. Siddiqui, but at this point her record appears to be on the side of voting with the group. And the group has voted, pretty much, to rubber stamp the initiatives of the Superintendent.
Four members will be chosen in this election, which will determine whether the current top-down style of operation will continue. That is why your vote is so crucial. You are voting either to maintain the status quo, or to make a statement that it should be changed. A clear outline of how it might be different is provided by Bess Altwerger in her response to Question 5.
If you wish to maintain the status quo, you should vote: French, O'Connor, Smith.
If you wish to see more responsiveness and transparency, and a different balance of power, you should vote: Altwerger, Beams, Furman, Vaillancourt.
What about Allen Dyer, you ask? Well, he's a wild card in my opinion. Past experience, combined with his remarks at the forum, indicate to me that Allen Dyer remains firmly committed to Allen Dyer. We know he'll go to the mat defending himself. I don't think that serves either group particularly well. It is interesting that the status quo folks may be leaning towards Mr. Dyer, perhaps in a case of the Devil You Know, rather than the Devil You Don't Know.
But, we've been there before. Haven't we?
I should add that if you want to maintain the status quo you should probably vote for Ms. Vaillancourt as well, since a) she already knows how to do the job b) her vote won't count and c) you'll have someone who will treats you with respect at board meetings and answer your emails if you have an issue or a question.
I have been happy to see increased readership on these posts, as well as engagement through comments. Be respectful. And remember, posting under your own name gives you greater credibility in the long run.
A footnote. In case you don't think transparency is an issue, were you aware that the Board recently voted 6-1 to suspend the Operating Budget Review Committee for one year? (Cindy Vaillancourt was the only BOE member to vote against.) The OBRC is the only committee that enables stakeholders and community to ask questions and provide input to the BOE regarding the operating budget. Candidate Dan Furman chose to speak directly to the Operating Budget process on Wednesday night, with an emphasis on greater transparency. Perhaps this is why.
*Candidates Christine O'Connor and Allen Dyer did not participate.