A few speakers spoke at unnecessary length, though given some of the issues that may be arguable. The board members remained authoritative but respectful and while the citizens did seem frustrated at times, they also did their best to remain respectful. If somebody talked out of turn they were told, calmly, that they had to be recognized by the chair before speaking. One citizen did seem to get overwhelmed by his anger but had the wherewithal to remove himself from the podium over the issue concerning the head coach before he said anything that may have caused the problem. Overall the meeting was very organized and civilized. In instances of accusation or perceived accusation, the board members insisted the citizens give names, which seemed to be a sophisticated way to handle the situation. This would avoid confusion and rumors if the town came to reviewing the situation in that way. Though some questions were repeated, and the board members were obviously frustrated in some instances, the session was always calm. Beyond the town-wide discussion about the coach and hiring policies, there was jovial discussion about Mr. Dolphin’s efforts as a teacher and even a standing ovation over for him.
One item that was discussed during the Business/Finance section of the meeting was the FY-15 Budget, which reflected the needs and goals of the Williams County Middle School. By 2017, Williams County Middle School’s original goal was to help students reach college readiness and proficiency in all subjects including math, science, reading, and critical thinking. The budget allotted for the Williams County Middle School in the year 2014-15 is 4.2% less than what was provided the previous year, which was problematic toward their goal. The original budget helped support the purchase of supplies, paying teachers, and school upkeep. The school has already begun making cuts that will potentially impact the student’s learning capacity, as well as their progress. The school is being forced to eliminate classes such as music and mid-level English class in order to offer remedial and advanced classes. This is in an effort to stabilize incoming classes and keep students learning at maximum efficiency. Teachers are also being forced to teach two subjects instead of just one, with math teachers also teaching science. Studies programs are only printed to incoming students in order to save paper, and even forms of communication such as email are used when only necessary. The school began a recycling club in an effort to help conserve around the school but also get students involved in their community.
This deficit in the budget could potentially cause many students to struggle or fall between the cracks. Though mid-level teachers are being eliminated to pay for advanced and remedial programs, this means that average students may not get the educational attention they need. Limited communication with parents also leaves an opportunity for students to get into trouble. Limited extracurricular activities add to the threat of adolescents getting into trouble. I have seen firsthand what cutting a school’s funding can do. While the school district itself may breathe easier it is the children who suffer. Test scores do not rise, and children leave middle school unprepared for high school. Those same children then leave high school unprepared for college or adult life. Bad schools encourage people to move away, causing an economic collapse in towns. Many people do not understand how important good schools are to the town until they do not have one.
In summation, I believe the school board meeting was conducted calmly, respectfully, and professionally. The board members were clear about their expectations from the beginning; they had a list of speakers and let each person know how much time they had to voice their opinion. The board members were respectful to defiant community members, but they were also firm. When touchy issues were raised, they were done so in a delicate nature, but also with a sense of authority. Nothing in the school board meeting was swept under the rug. Overall, I believe the board did an excellent job.
"School Board Meeting - January 7th 2014." Londonderry: YouTube.com, 8 January 2014. Electronic.