05/25/10 — Board pick: Replacing board member should be about doing right thing, nothing else

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Board pick: Replacing board member should be about doing right thing, nothing else

There should be no reason to be concerned that the Wayne County commissioners are being tasked with replacing a member of the county's Board of Education.

And, perhaps there isn't, not really -- especially as long as the process is done not behind closed doors, but in full view of the public.

But after this particular discussion is over -- and it seems commission Chairman Jack Best has made it a priority to get it done -- the power to determine its own destiny should be passed back to the board full of people who were elected to take care of the county schools.

There is no need for a third party in this process -- and, quite frankly, the county should have much more to do than to be involved in the school board's business. After this decision has been made, the commission should -- gracefully -- set the wheels in motion to hand the power to appoint replacement members back to the school board. And if it doesn't, the school board should go about making sure it gets done itself.

But since the county is involved, there are some factors that everyone should remember as the process begins to pick someone to fill Shirley Sims' seat.

First, this is a nonpartisan seat on a nonpartisan board. Politics are not a consideration here -- and let's face it, politics are a factor in just about everything to do with the county commission. If the commission is going to name a replacement, it has to be blind to the political affiliation of the candidates for the spot.

Second, this is not about power, muscle flexing or anything else that resembles a contest to show who's boss. This is an important position on an important board that is tasked with caring for the futures of thousands of Wayne County children. There is no room for power plays -- this is about what is best for those children.

Third, whomever is picked for this post should understand that this is a job that requires more than simply attending a meeting or two. Whether you agree with her stands on issues or not, Ms. Sims was a presence in Wayne County Schools. She had the perspective of an educator and the heart of someone who cares about the children. Her replacement should be willing to be just as involved.

And last, but least, this choice should be made in the public arena -- just as an election is. People should be able to hear how the candidates feel about some very important issues in the schools. Closed door meetings are not the name of this game. This is the people's seat.

So far, Chairman Best has made all the right moves -- creating a committee to recruit and to evaluate candidates, making sure that committee includes a member of the school board and setting a timetable for getting this job done.

Let's hope that as the process moves on, that same spirit of cooperation and trying to respect as many points of view and ideas as possible will set a new tone for the future as the commission and the school board talk about the next budget and what's next for Wayne County Schools.

Published in Editorials on May 25, 2010 10:04 AM