The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Public Input Is For Suckers

Normally this wouldn't be something I'd write on, but when it's part of a pattern it's definitely blogworthy.

For the second time this year, the South San Antonio Independent School District Board of Trustees has decided to make a major decision withough public input:

Blink an eye, and it could be missed: South San Antonio Independent School District trustees changed next fall's middle school boundaries Wednesday night — without prior public discussion or any public input.

Many school districts take the hot-button issue to the community to let people have a say in proposed changes. But South San school officials said there wasn't time to do that because they must have the boundaries pinned down by the end of the school year.

Not even at Wednesday's special-called meeting was time allotted for people to speak.


In districts where adjusting boundaries is routine, officials make a point of including parents and community members in the process.

"That's the public expectation," said Deborah Caldwell, spokeswoman for the North East Independent School District. "The public expects to have a voice, and it should, because it's affecting their life."

Caldwell's district faced a similar timeline this year with a new middle school opening in August. Officials began boundary discussions in December, held three public meetings and then adopted new attendance zones in February.

South San Superintendent Ronald Durbon said he doesn't think his district could have pulled off a similar turnaround.

"That's North East and that may be the way they do things," he said after the vote.

"We didn't think we could have gone to our community in the time that we had and do that. Maybe North East has more staff than we do for those types of things."

Yeah, public input must one of those "North Side" things- how much staff does it take to set up public meetings at the two middle schools affected? I can actually understand the thought behind this being something new to South San, but schools don't get built overnight. But it comes down to exactly what Caldwell is talking about, people's expectations.

When you constantly see your school district pull this sort of stuff, then you expect less and less from your school board. Sadly for South San, public discussion seems to be a foreign concept.