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The Snoop

Over the past few weeks, Mike Boyink and I have found it difficult to find fun, uplifting, inspirational or appropriate topics for The Snoop.    

Current news topics and editorial themes are depressing.  Coronavirus updates vary, and have become stagnant, as squabbling about how to move forward continues.  

In addition, controversial crimes and injustices have taken the driver’s seat, with hate crimes, murders, retaliatory actions, riots, protests, destruction of statutes, and many other heinous acts in the headlines. 

Hence, the Snoop took a holiday vacation for the past two weeks, as our country continues in chaos.  

But my perspective changed last week and I was inspired to write about something positive and local –– the new energy and focus of the Ava R-I School Board.  

On June 16, I attended the Ava R-I School Board meeting, something I haven’t done for a while.  During the meeting I was encouraged.  

After covering school board meetings for nearly 20 years, the intentional actions of new the board inspired as they appeared intent on handling business items differently.    Better.

With Lowell Strong and Troy Tredway serving on the board again, and Deana Parsick and Dan Johnson sitting alongside, these four openly expressed intentions to facilitate meetings with total transparency.  

During the session, they welcomed input from school staff and community members.  

It was perfectly clear they intend to take secrecy and power-mongering out of the boardroom.   

Kudos, this is long overdue.

In addition, attention to detail was also inspiring.  

Agenda topics had been well-researched, and due to their preparation, new perspectives were offered, cost-saving ideas generated, and alternatives considered.

Financial numbers were cited, along with long term strategies.  

Board rules were brought to the forefront, with intentions to follow.    

They demonstrated a solid grasp on the scope and power of their duty as a board member.  

Good judgment was exhibited as they discussed ideas and options.

It was a treat to watch. 

I’ve always heard that past school boards operated differently, with self-governing authority, but those sessions occurred in the good old days, way back when.  In those years, it was the ‘movers and shakers’ in our community that ran the school, not the superintendent. And, upon looking back, board initiatives appeared cohesive, not divisive. 

The board served as a facilitator, and brought community together, and positive accomplishments happened.  

In 1939, Ava’s yearbook, The Docomo, lists the Board of Education to include L.H. Pettit, Fred Livingston, J.E. Curry, C.E. Davis, Clarence Clinkingbeard, and Dr. Robert Norman.  In 1950, board members are Emmett Norman, Clarence Clinkingbeard, Russell Ferguson, Lester Pettit, Dr. R.M. Norman, Bill Brooks, and Senator J.E. Curry.  

These men had a clear, unwavering vision for community.  They not only made an impact on the success of the local business realm, but were  integral in creating a well-respected school environment many of us still remember and revere.  

No doubt the district was different back then. Societal standards were different as well.  

Another difference was the old-fashioned underlying spark many board members had for igniting growth and autonomy within our community.  They possessed the courage and voice to stand by their convictions.  

Yes, our community has changed throughout the years, however, the main duty and objective of a school board member has not.  

A board member’s responsibility is to wisely oversee, facilitate and select the best for students, staff and campus.   

The board of education is leader and boss of the district. 

Somehow over the past 20 years, this chain of command was lost and superintendents became the sole captain of the ship.  Board members were rubber stamping recommendations rather than presenting them.   

This authority sequence appeared to change last week.  

It was evident during the June 16 meeting, several board members have the confidence and knowledge to make a difference.  

They possess a we-can-do-this mentality.  

It was refreshing to witness.  

Perhaps, those underlying sparks from the good old days still exist, and old-fashioned ingenuity and independent thinking are still alive after all.