This week’s Octorara Area School Board Meeting included little of anything that could be called noteworthy, with maybe the exception of Dr Newcome’s comments at the end of the meeting. It was what I expected to write about last week:
- A list of Bus Drivers,
- A vote on the new bus runs,
- A couple policy revisions,
- A resignation,
- A list of hiring approvals,
- et al.
Shawna Johnson provided the Finance Committee report, which was a list of topics discussed. They received a report form the cafeteria staff, which included a discussion of new regulations. Other topics included the annual audit, obtaining a bond for the tax collector, PA State Tax Equalization, and more.
The Policy Committee report was provided by Samuel Ganow. He stated that the Committee has began looking at 801 (Public Records) and a list of several others.
“Insiders Are Wanted”
I knew we were in for a rant when I heard Dr. Newcome referencing statements directly from my candidate questionnaire. It seemed to be his attempt to defend the idea that certain voices have value, while the majority of parents, citizens and taxpayers have… not so much value.
The gist of his rant was that each of the board members have completed a real questionnaire with their volunteerism to the school. In Newcome’s world, the citizens know all they need to know about board members, and has repeatedly used the idea of a volunteer board to defend members whenever hard questions arise. He perpetuates the idea that an all volunteer board is both infallible and unaccountable. Does that make sense to you?
Since the beginning of this year, addressing the District’s issues has been like peeling an onion:
- Talking about taxes revealed issues regarding labor costs, debt, and performance.
- Looking at the debt found complacency toward enrollment and tax-base issues.
- Highlighting performance issues exposed problems with subgroups and transparency.
- Digging into the issues of transparency, showed neglect toward updating District polices… some over 10 years old and/or in conflict with current laws.
Dr Newcome speaks as one who seemingly believes in good ole boy networks and clique loyalty as an effective means to an end. It is the cronyism I referred to in my questionnaire post. How do you think that has worked out for the District?
Dr Newcome is unapologetic for this line of thinking, because he has rationalized it and is oblivious to it being a problem. It is a worldview in which the democratic process must be managed, and the public’s role limited. Supporting political cronyism insures the majority of individuals on the board will not express or support views contrary to those of the Administration.
Have you read my Octorara School Board: What Every Voter Should Know post? Do you know which board members support accountability at every stage of schooling, consumer rights in education, and holding teachers and administrators responsible for student performance? Do you know which don’t?
Yesterday evening’s rant from Dr. Newcome was a reaffirmation and doubling-down on his firmly held belief regarding the value of a small group above the majority of parents, citizens, and taxpayers. This mentality is one of smiles and handshakes, with decisions made behind closed doors and among friends, to the exclusion of those outside the clique.
It is time to pull back the curtain and expose for all citizens the “wizard” behind the major issues facing the Octorara Area School District. The District needs a coalition of political outsiders, with vibrant and diverse political opinions, who are sick of being dictated to and dismissed. The 2013 Elections have been pretty much locked, but 2015 represents a real opportunity for citizens to take back the District.