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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Scrutiny of board positive

  • An interesting thing happened at Tuesday night's Wayne Highlands School Board committee meeting.
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  • An interesting thing happened at Tuesday night's Wayne Highlands School Board committee meeting.
    Local resident Travis Samson took about 10 minutes and pretty much called out board members on what he sees as a lack of caring for the taxpayers.
    Samson hit on many points and said the taxpayers are fed up with property taxes going up each and every year by votes of members of the board.
    He said it's time for the board to "think outside of the box" when it comes to spending.
    To his credit, Samson complimented the board and said many people outside of this district look to Wayne Highlands as a model for education.
    However, he then proceeded to point out specific concerns he has about the district and its budgeting. (See story, page 1.) Samson went into great detail and said board members can do better when it comes to scrutinizing the district's finances.
    At one point, board president Tom Fasshauer told Samson, and anyone else in the room, they were welcome to make an appointment to discuss the budget with him, the superintendent and district business manager.
    That's a good step, however, the board should also consider offering that to the entire community. We believe many people would be interested in attending an open question and answer session with board members to discuss how they vote on matters.
    Another part of this entire situation has to do with how the board handles comments from the public. Board policy states that questions can only be directed to the chairman.
    Why?
    The last we checked, all board members are elected by the public. It seems they all are independent thinkers and should be able to handle public questioning and scrutiny. In fact, it should be part of what they do as board members.
    Maybe a member has a different answer than Fasshauer on a question. That member should have every right to voice an opinion to the public.
    This rule makes no sense and leaves the appearance that board members are serving at the pleasure of the chairman. That is a bad appearance.
    We don't blame the chairman of this because it's probably been policy for many years. However, we believe the rest of the board should take up this issue and have a public discussion about the policy.
    We realize school board members are doing a public service with no compensation. However, we also realize they tossed their hat in the ring for a chance to serve on the board. That means you are open to public scrutiny — both positive and negative.
    One of the subjects which Samson raised on Tuesday was the belief the board is there to serve the administration. That was adamantly denied by the board president.
    Page 2 of 2 - We hope that is the case.
    Maybe when Samson has his meeting with district officials, he can find out how many relatives of board members work for the district. He should also find out how many relatives of those in the administration work for the district.
    We're not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it should be revealed so the taxpayers have an understanding of the family ties in the district.
    That goes right to the heart of Samson's concern about the board backing the administration, even when it shouldn't.
    The bottom line for all of this is there is a positive movement when it comes to public scrutiny of the school board and its financial practices. This is a good thing and we encourage those who are concerned to continue to attend meetings and find out where the money is being spent.
    For far too long the public has not paid attention to the financial aspects of the school district and it's about time it happened.
    We applaud these people and hope the board is receptive to such scrutiny — and not gun shy.

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