04/27/13 — Keep out: Change in leadership in schools not invitation for commission

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Keep out: Change in leadership in schools not invitation for commission

You can almost see it if you squint hard enough: A few county commissioners sitting around talking -- just enough to get around the open meetings rule, and without the benefit of anyone there to hear them or to offer up another opinion or a question or two.

They have just heard that Superintendent Steve Taylor and a key assistant superintendent, Craig McFadden, have announced that they will retire this year.

Imagine it as a sort of war room -- with a few people sitting around developing strategy.

One commissioner looks at the other.

"So the school district is losing its leader and one of his top assistants," he says.

"Wonder if now might be the time to think about pushing an agenda to take over control of the Wayne County Public Schools facilities.

"After all, some of us have run businesses -- we are uniquely qualified to tell a school district how to do its job. We are already telling everyone else how to do theirs anyway -- and it would give us a break from micromanaging the heck out of the county manager.

"Maybe the school board doesn't realize how valuable our insight would be?"

Seem possible? Heck yes.

Is it in your best interest as a taxpayer in Wayne County -- no way.

When government becomes consolidated or politicians get a little too big for their britches, liberties are taken -- like saying things like "I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet."

Their decisions are made based not on the will of the people, but on what these self-appointed gurus see as their enlightened approach to governing.

And you know what happens then -- it ends up costing you money.

There is no question that this will be an interesting time in the schools. New leaders always bring new visions -- and there has been a lot that has been done right by the current leadership team. That last fact should not be ignored or discounted.

A careful search for a new leader is critical, and it does not need to be tainted by politics or a power grab. This is too important a job.

What we as the public have to guard against is an end run while the school board is busy looking at its next steps.

No, we don't need representation from the county commission on the search committee.

And, no, we don't care what the chairman of the commission might think about what qualities would be best for the next person holding the job -- although there is nothing wrong with him offering his opinion if he is asked as it relates to the county's strategic future.

And yes, the determination of the schools' path and what needs to be done next should continue to be in the hands of the people we elected to handle that task.

It is simple really -- mind your own beeswax, county commission. There is enough to fix in your own house and we don't need 27 meetings and 14 county "information gathering missions" to pick a new leader for our schools.

Perhaps we are not giving you enough credit. Maybe you are content to sit on the sidelines.

But just in case the thought to do something else has crossed your minds -- there it is.

Published in Editorials on April 27, 2013 11:43 PM