Thursday, August 6, 2009


A major problem in Stark County these days, is the build up of mistrust by many of our citizens of Stark's local units of government.

Mistrust is all around us.

Canton and its mayor. Marlboro Township and its trustees. North Canton and some of its citizens. And Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township citizens and their schools.

To be sure, there are quite a number of other examples.

But you get the point.

As does board member Gindlesberger of the Northwest Board of Education.

Gindlesberger is quoted in The Massillon Independent piece No action means no Nov. levy for N'West (at yesterday's meeting [August 5, 2009], which was billed as an exploratory meeting as to whether or not Northwest should make another levy attempt in the face of ten consecutive defeats, as follows:
The trust issue is huge. It’s something that we may not even correct by May. We are not one community. We are two communities and we have to fix that.
Northwest will not pass a levy until it makes substantial progress in re-building trust. Superintendent Stetler can pontificate all he wants to, to wit:
What we are doing is verging on immoral. We can’t do this to our children just because adults can’t get along. We’re going to fight like heck to get an issue passed.
Gindlesberer appears to be, and hopefully the rest of the board is, way ahead of Stetler who talks about a "new strategy - a new offensive plan."

It is about trust and it is not about politically outmaneuvering the voting public as "Stetler talk" seems to suggest.

Let's see, there about 5,000 households in Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township. There are 5 board members. 5,000 divided by 5 equals 1,000. So if each board member were to take on being in touch (via e-mail, snail mail, home visits, telephone calls - whatever works for a particular household) with 1,000 households over the course of a calendar year, maybe just maybe, you would have the beginnings of re-building trust in the Northwest Local School District.

Over a five year cycle (by switching 1000 blocks), each board member will have endeavored to be in touch with each and every household in the Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township community.

Rebuilding trust would mean "really listening" to willing community participants. It would mean communicating the "partnership aspect of educating children" to the willing. It would mean a constructing "a climate of willingness to change my point-of-view in the context of rational, factually based dialogue."

The is a huge difference between the "rebuilding trust" model and the Stetler model of "finessing the voter for this election" model.

Board members will remain in the community. The superintendent is not likely to.

The will have continuing accountability, the superintendent will not.

In the news article about the August 5th meeting, there is way to much focus on the superintendent. He is a transitory figure. Stetler has already retired and rehired at Lake. He took a education job in Columbus based on his Republican political ties. When Strickland bounced the Republican, Stetler was history. That's how he ended up back in Stark County to the only superintendent job available to him at the time.

Northwest board members need to reassert control of their schools. The day of the "expert" superintendent fostered by the likes of Stetler and Lambes before him are gone forever. School superintendents are fast losing the public confidence because for the most part they are not community people but merely professional moving through.

So it is up to the abiding Canal Fulton/Northwest element to re-build trust: the local board of education members, that's who.

Can Northwest do it by February?

Probably not.

But today is the day for each and every member of the Northwest Board of Education to begin the challenging task of rebuilding trust in the Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township community!

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