By Wayne William Cipriano
The Douglas County Republican Committee Provided on 3/4s of an entire page in the March 31, 2016 edition of the Douglas County Herald, a printed forum of school board candidates responses to six exceptionally well-chosen questions just in time for the April 5 election.
It was the next best thing to live interviews and we took advantage of the presentation.
As soon as we understood what we were looking at we stopped reading and blocked off the names of all five candidates. Then on the next two succeeding evenings, one of us read aloud each question and each response while the other rated that response on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). We totaled the points of all six questions, divided by six and obtained an average score. We felt this was appropriate because we thought each of the six questions asked was of roughly equal importance. And, when you think about it that was a fairly difficult challenge for those who generated the questions.
I felt question three (students graduating with adequate proficiency) was a bit more important than the rest; Rosalie thought it was question six (plans for improvement). We both agreed Common Core is a very important educational issue statewide and the school bussing issue was very important locally. And, neither of us could properly rank school board access and potential property tax increases.
These are all important questions and the responses gave us a chance to decide which candidates would best represent our positions and priorities on the school board.
Besides the one candidate flagrantly pandering to the school district’s unified voting block, we were very satisfied with the field of office hopefuls. It is important that voters and taxpayers, parents and students, educational professionals learn what school board candidates say they plan to do if elected, particularly in reference to sensitive issues that might be missing from campaign literature and stump speeches.
The Douglas County Republican Committee’s printed forum gave us the opportunity to read those responses, and perhaps energized some voters to trek to the polls. I have been told almost 19% percent of the eligible voters cast a ballot. Not that great, you say? Well, Springfield also had school board vacancies to fill and they rack up a paltry 7%.
A lot of people might say this is a tempest in a teapot, even though there has been a lot of media space dedicated to one school district issue in particular. And, I guess that the 13 years most spend in the public education system seems like such a long time that its importance is sort of spread out and not immediate. But in the case of this election which may have a direct and quick impact on the course of events on one single issue, and the overall responsibility that the school board has for the education of our youngsters (often referred to as the second most important duty we have after providing for their health), it is, in the words of our vice president, “a pretty big #$%&/* deal.”
And, I will bet the Republican Committee’s printed forum in the paper helped some voters make up their minds. It helped us.