Herding School Board Cats

Readers of recent posts did not know it at first but I was keeping up with the School Board race from Iowa. The Trib had several stories for me to comment on. Fortunately I had time to respond before the primary election for those who can’t help but hang on my every word.

I also was challenged on my recollection of Board member Ann Wasson’s tenure. I’d posted that she had been on the Board for only 8 years. That challenge prompted me to spend a couple hours trying to resurect all the school board members since I was first seated in January of 1995. There were a lot of them although fewer in recent years because in 2004 the Board adopted member Mary Glasses pet idea to reduce our board down from nine to seven members. I think Mary thought this would save taxpayers money by subtracting two $5,400 salaries of Board members from the payroll.

I knew that this was negligible savings but I figured a new superintendent would find it easier to heard seven instead of nine cats so I went along with the proposal which required the legislature to OK our downsized Board in law.

I think history has proven my insight about cat herding to be more reliable than Mary’s solution for extravagant spending.

When Dr. Dixon took over he had only two long-term Board members to deal with Mary Cameron and Tim Grover. No one else had much more than four years service. Ann Wasson had only one year under her belt. She was elected to fill a two year seat during the transition to seven seats and got elected twice after that to four-year terms. She’s retiring with ten years under her belt.

One of the miracles for Dr. Dixon was an attentive and naive school board which took his direction as though hypnotized. In short order they authorized over $400 million of spending on new school facilities on their own authority rather than go to the public for a vote.

If I could go back in time to restore that $10,800 for two extra school board members to the school budget and skip payments on what is now close to $500 million in Red Plan spending I would do it in a heartbeat. How ironic that our School Board proved to be penny wise but pound foolish.

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