Don't threaten the levy; failure fails the kids

Editorial Gary MugDon’t threaten the levy – When I say that some might think that I’m referring to the Oroville School Board meeting held last Monday and that the board’s actions threaten the levy. I’m not. What I’m saying is no matter how unpopular the board’s actions, or the superintendent’s for that matter, threatening not to vote for the levy is not a threat against the board, but against the students.

The two-year levy goes to pay for programs for the kids, as well as to maintain the district’s buildings. The buildings we as taxpayers pay for and want to last for a long time so we don’t have to levy ourselves even more money to replace them.

Last Monday’s meeting was emotional – emotional for the first-year teacher whose contract was not renewed at the suggestion of the superintendent. And, emotional for his supporters – everyone from his mom, dad and grandmother to the parents of students that said Mr. Frazier was making break throughs with their kids. It was also emotional for the board who appeared to be losing control of the board meeting when people continued to make public comments after they told the public they weren’t going to be allowed to.

Threatening to call the police to clear the board room was a mistake. I believe it came from a feeling that things were getting out of hand. While most of Mr. Frazier’s supporters were loud they were not abusive, but there were some who were throwing around a few expletives that had no place at a public meeting.

What was an even bigger mistake took place at the previous board meeting in May. The board certainly left the impression that the public would be able to comment on any issue that was on the agenda – the teacher wasn’t on the agenda that night, but people were told he would be at the next meeting, and he was. He was item IV, listed right after I. Meeting Called to Order, II. Flag Salute and III. Approval of the Agenda. However when it came time to comment, the public was not allowed to do so. This was the biggest misstep – if at least some who signed up to speak were given even five minutes to make a statement, I think the tension would have been reduced. Would people have still went away angry… undoubtedly, but at least they would have had a chance to voice their disapproval.

I remember a time when the levy failed… I was in high school, covering the news for the Hornet Headlines if you believe it. Emotions were running high then and statements like they’d rather have a football team than this class or that weren’t uncommon. Anyway it takes a long time to catch up from a failed levy. Tonasket went though an extended period of levy failures and it took them years to catch up even when levies started passing again.

And who does failure hurt, not the board, but the kids. If you must vote against something vote out the board. That’s the beauty of a democracy and of local control. You don’t like the board, run for office yourself or vote for another candidate – get the representative you want. But remember, whoever sits on the board is still going to be bound by the law and have to act accordingly