Sprinting for political cover

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

If running for political cover were an athletic spectator sport viewers of last night’s school board meeting would have witnessed the equivalent of a political sprint by a couple of board members.

But, they failed to cross the finish line.

Superintendent Ken Hinton and treasurer Guy Cahill asked the board for input concerning ideas they have put forward to trim a looming $2.8 million deficit for this fiscal year and a $7.5 million deficit for the next fiscal year.

Some of these ideas are going to be very unpopular. Ideas presented to the school board included closing a high school, larger class sizes for special needs students, consolidating individual school athletic directors into one district-wide athletic director and the elimination of behind-the-wheel driver’s ed. Those ideas are bound to draw the ire of employees, unions, parents and alumni just to mention a few groups.

That’s why it’s no great surprise that any great sense of direction was lacking from the District 150 School Board last night when the discussion ended. 

A few members offered a small amount of direction hardly worth repeating.

What is worthy of focus is a couple of board members who it appeared were running in place for political cover.

Rachael Parker - whose husband General Parker is running for mayor - said input is needed from everyone so that all feel at least they were listened to when the cuts come.

Talk about stating the obvious. Let’s see, when was the last time in recent memory that anything of any consequence happened at District 150 without expansive media coverage and input - rational or not - from every quarter?

Uh, that’s easy. NEVER.

Parker’s comments were followed closely by Martha Ross who wanted to know if principals are going to be involved in the decision-making process about big cuts.

Cahill informed Ross that principals have discretionary control over 1 to 2 percent of the funding that flows into their school. Hinton then told Ross that when it comes to making the decisions on big-budget items the burden falls on the administration and school board. 

That attempted detour to the path for political cover was not productive for Ross. 

How are some board members going to find political cover if Cahill and Hinton are reminding them and the rest of us that the board sought office and were elected to make these decisions?

Watch for smoke coming from under the tables when board members are seated next week during the committee of the whole meetings. You’ll have to guess, like the rest of us, whether it’s coming from friction as some board members run in place for political cover or a smokescreen.   

Oh, this could get real interesting real fast.