County commissioner Joe Daughtery said Tuesday that he and other commissioners were "shocked and disappointed" at the school board's recent 5-2 decision to begin implementing class size reduction measures despite a recent reprieve fought diligently for and won by our locally elected state representatives.
He felt the BOE should have discussed the measures first with the commissioners and school system.
And he was right. The mandate initially imposed would have cost this county millions of dollars it did not have. It also threatened numerous teaching jobs, as well as art classes, music programs and physical education.
And it took maximum effort from all parties involved to get House Bill 90, which disperses the burden of the mandate across several years and provides additional funding for it, passed ahead of next school year when the original mandate would have otherwise taken effect and begun costing our schools and students dearly.
The BOE's decision to move forward brought with it costs and hurdles its members might not have foreseen and so it may in fact need to walk that decision back at its next meeting.
Yet, while BOE member Raymond Smith and the members who supported his motion to begin enacting the class size reductions in the county's low-performing schools as soon as next year might have been a bit hasty, it does seem the attempt was made in good faith.
The poorest and most densely populated of our schools are where the greatest burdens reside.
But let's cut to the chase. Hurt feelings and the public airing of grievances is only going to lead to infighting amongst those whom our students, parents, and teachers look to to solve these issues.
The commissioners were right in the sense that any action ought to have been taken collectively, with discussion and disclosure.
But, in Smith & Co.'s defense, there cannot be all talk and no action.
The BOE has one point not to be ignored -- these kids are still stuffed into these classrooms, not next year or three years from now, right now.
So, sure, there is now additional time to examine the issues and move smartly. But do move.
The community cares less about commissioners with ruffled feathers and legislators who might (we doubt they would) feel slighted, than we do about our students and teachers.