Friday, December 11, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Learning curve for new district

Jacksonville’s new school district is moving forward with plans to be totally independent come this July.

Because this is a one-of-a-kind process, the district has to re-invent the wheel, in many cases, as it goes along. It has and will make mistakes. As parents, we call them growing pains. And there are sure to be more of them.

Some of the mistakes are minor, such as a short off-the-record meeting with several school board members before the actual board meeting Monday night.

One individual asked the board to let the public know what was discussed, but no answer came forward. That short meeting, if anyone presses the attorney general’s office, was most likely a violation of the Freedom of Information Act, but, more importantly, it gives the appearance of secret dealings.

Remember, one of the reasons why 95 percent of Jacksonville voters said yes to a new district was because of that veiled curtain the Pulaski County Special School District put between itself and Jacksonville, leaving local residents out of planning, money and opportunity for input.

The law does allow the board to meet behind closed doors, but only on personnel issues, and they did that Monday night, too. Board members followed the law in that meeting by coming out and acknowledging that they had a discussion and no action was taken.

It would have been nice to know the topic, sure, but the law requires no further information, unless action is decided and then that action takes place in the public forum.

Let’s hope that early closed-door meeting was just a blip and not a sign of problems to come. Board president Daniel Gray is making real efforts to be as transparent as possible, and patrons appreciate that, but off-the-record meetings are inappropriate as the district moves toward independence.

All in all, keep up the good work.