By Wayne William Cipriano
There will be a school board election on April 5, 2016. Not very important unless you have a kid in public school, or a niece or nephew, or a grandchild, or you plan to live in Douglas County when these kids grow up and begin running this place.
Not very important unless you pay taxes or pay rent. We live in Douglas County, but not in Ava, so 79% (yes, seventy-nine percent) of our county taxes, personal property and real estate, goes to our public school. The state and the federal government, which you may have noticed collect income taxes, both send portions of those taxes we pay to our public school. And, some of the rent you pay is passed on, by your landlord, to our public school in the form of the property taxes he pays. Just about every one of us pays for public school in one way or another.
The school board is completely responsible for the operation of the Ava R-I public schools. From the most temporary employee who cuts the grass or paints lines on the parking lot, through all the staff, the teachers, department heads, building principals, right up to and including the superintendent, all these employees work for, are directed by, and are answerable only to the school board. And, the school board is only answerable to us, the voters.
Periodically, only a couple of seats for the board come up for election so the chaos that might result from the entire board being replaced is averted. But occasionally those couple of seats can make a big difference.
For example, you may have heard how the future of the bus transportation system at school has been questioned recently. Information has been available through the media, most depth provided by the Douglas County Herald’s exceptionally complete and accurate reports, valuable even to someone like me who attended some of the meetings at which the information was presented but was frankly overwhelmed by the complexity of both the problems and the potential solutions.
In the case of bus transportation, the issue was settled by a vote of 5-2, all members voting. Two of the votes in the majority came from members who are not running for re-election. This means, of course, that the bus issue finally put to rest could be resurrected and, provided the two newly-elected members voted with the previous minority, could now be decided 4-3 in the opposite direction.
It is rare that voters can have such a direct impact upon a governmental board, the members of which are elected on a schedule devised to cushion the effect of any one election.
But, putting aside this one very important issue, many of us would like to hear from the candidates in terms of their plans and priorities. Rather than tell us that a candidate is an Ava High graduate, has kids in the school system, attends church regularly, generally supports “quality education” and was a three-letter gal (all valuable traits, indeed), what about a forum sponsored by some civic-minded entity at which candidates could announce two or three ideas, plans, directions each feels worthy of their prolonged support.
In addition to forums, perhaps media interviews (KKOZ Radio, Douglas County Herald) during which the candidates might respond to questions about the changes they feel are necessary and the manner in which such changes might take place.
And, what about advertisements from the candidates that mention specifically what plans and ideas each proposes to pursue by channeling their energies on a long-term basis?
After we have been exposed to such substantive and germane information and proposals, we would be in a much better position to select the two candidates most worthy of these offices, most able to improve our Ava R-I School District.
Voting is easy and quick and so is the one time in your life that you have to register. Just call Karry Davis, county clerk, at 683-4714, and ask for voter registration details. Nothing to it!
This is your public school system. You pay for it. You elect those who run it in your name, and spend your money to do so. It is a pretty big deal. You should have your say. Don’t you think?