281 Leadership Shows None Lately

An interesting editorial at the MN Sun Post:

The district spent $20,000 for a strategic planning consultant and completed a whirlwind process that involved input from at least 1,000 residents and resulted in a call for improved communication.

The district now has committed $17,500 for a financial planning program, led by a consultant who is suggesting the district needs to look at reducing its staff.

A citizens group called Unite 281 has worked hard to get signatures from 1,000 people requesting a levy referendum on the Nov. 4 election ballot.

Area residents have spent hours of time and raised thousands of dollars to reinstate after-school activities that were cut for the 2008-09 school year following last fall’s failed referendum.

And hundreds of residents who flooded the board room last fall when school closings were being considered have offered their help and support in maintaining the district’s standards.

Now it’s the School Board’s turn to act. It should select members for a citizens financial committee and get that group up and running without further delay.

It must select a board member to replace Paul Magnuson, who is moving to Switzerland this August.

And the board needs to reach consensus on a list of proposed reductions for the 2009-10 budget.

Here’s one opportunity to gain public trust by selecting a qualified replacement. Read more examples of why there needs to be a serious shakeup with the leadership.

Citizens and consultants alike have pinpointed a need for strong board leadership and improved district communication.

Both of those areas need immediate attention. School Board meetings are long and not nearly as productive as they need to be. Instead of biting the bullet and moving ahead, board members continue to postpone decisions and request additional information from staff.

As a result, the School Board finds itself in the same position as it did in 2007. It is heading into summer – when many of its constituents are on vacation – with significant decisions hanging in the balance.

A four-hour School Board work session on June 9, for example, was frustratingly inefficient, fraught with tedious work-smithing and unfocused discussions. The bulk of the agenda was pushed to yet another work session in July. The School Board doesn’t have this kind of time to waste.

It is well past time for the board to exercise strong leadership and address the important issues it faces. The time for making decisions is now.

Stonewalling is central to most of this administration, and these examples highlight their incompetence. Hopefully someone will present leadership while citizens work towards replacing them with competent leaders next year. Superintendent Mack’s contract also expires next year. Let’s hope it’s not renewed.

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