Links of Interest
Where is the representation?
By Chris Miksanek
I ran for a position on
Rochester School Board in 2002 on the platform of representing all of
the school district stakeholders. At the time I found it remarkable that
issues dividing the community often found disproportionate support with
For instance, projects and expenditures that half the community opposed
were unanimously endorsed by the school board. Where was the
Little has changed in that regard three years later. With one exception.
One board member has demonstrated the courage to represent the
taxpayers; to ask the tough questions and endure the dramatic sighs and
Fred Daly asks little more of fellow board members than, in a time of
limited resources, to slow down and thoughtfully reconsider and prioritize
expenditures. He asks the board to recognize the detrimental effect a
double-digit levy increase has on the community and how it jeopardizes the
board's ability to appeal for
their support in the future. But rather than earn peer appreciation for
keeping the board's focus broad enough to include the community
stakeholders, he is routinely criticized and bullied by other board members.
No one has been more vocal criticizing Mr. Daly than board chairwoman
Kim Norton who recently expressed her disappointment that his "method of
speaking out is a little different than the rest of the board." But if
Norton even represents taxpayers or students at all, it is not obvious.
When she first came to the board, Norton saw a need for a fourth public
high school in Rochester, conservatively estimated to cost $40 million.
Later, she admitted that "none of the long-range studies that look at
enrollment growth indicate a need for a fourth high school." Thankfully,
there was resistance or Norton would have spent $40 million on an
About the same time, she said short-term superintendent Mark Shellinger
brought a "fresh look" to the district. Soon after her comment, in what
we now call the "Shellinger debacle," $80,000 that could have been spent
on teachers or text books was used to undo a poor board decision. Yet
earlier this year, in the name of "fiscal responsibility," Norton chided
Mr. Daly over his request for nominal mileage reimbursement. This would
be comical if the stakes weren't so high.
Regarding the $26 million
"It's a short-term fix for
a bigger problem and that is the need for a fourth high school in
Kim Norton, Post
"Kim Norton said none of
the long-range studies that look at enrollment growth indicate a need
for a fourth high school."
Post Bulletin, 09/17/2003
"Kim Norton said Shellinger
brings a 'fresh look' to the district."
Post Bulletin, 11/02/2001
At the end of the day, we all share the same goal of providing quality
educational opportunities for our community's children. And while no one
has contributed more to that vision than the taxpayers with their
unprecedented funding, if they dare express concern about waste or
question expenditures they are insultingly labeled anti-education when
the converse is actually true.
By acting as the board's oversight committee, the taxpayers are
demonstrating great concern that the dollars invested in our children
are spent most effectively. Funding and staying involved: what better
way is there to demonstrate commitment to education? The board needs
more taxpayer representation to understand that and to stay grounded
because our community best benefits when discussion embraces all
viewpoints especially from those who speak "a little different."