The Report did a blog on the night (in April) that the North Canton City Schools Board of Education (NCCS-BOE) approved its Elementary Service Plan (ESP) which The Report described thusly in an April 24th blog:
... [M]any are very upset with the implementation of the Elementary Service Plan (ESP) in terms of how the five buildings which currently house North Canton's early childhood and elementary education are being reconfigured to accommodate "all day, everyday kindergarten" at only two of the facilities.Moreover, there were criticism of the how the BOE interacted with the North Canton public, to wit:
A major criticism, which the Stark County Political Report buys into, is the degree to which the BOE is structuring the exchange of viewpoints on the kindergarten implementation issue in such of fashion so as to stifle the objections that many parents have with the way the ESP is likely being forced by the administration and is fully supported by the BOE (except perhaps member Thomas).
A second objection is how the BOE refuses to spontaneously interact with the disagreeing parents. While the parents can address the Board during a "public speaks" portion of the regular board meetings, they get no response at the meeting itself: only stares from the five members. The North Canton Board of Education, they say, refuse to engage them face-to-face.From the responses of appearing candidates at Monday nights candidate forum, it seems to the SCPR that the interactive factor will not be improving anytime soon between citizens and BOE members.
The SCPR understands the need for order, civility and decorum, but it appears that candidates for North Canton's school board are obsessed with the need to make its public meetings nothing more than "an obsequious waltz" between themselves and Superintendent Mike Gallina and other members of his administration.
Obsequious is a fancy word but it aptly describes most of the candidates who spoke at Monday's candidates forum co-sponsored by the North Canton Chamber of Commerce and the North Canton City Schools.
Four of the five candidates appeared. Jennifer Kling (daughter of Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton) was unable, due to a conflicting commitment, to make the forum.
In terms of seeming servility, the SCPR ranks the appearing candidates in the following on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being "highly" servile:
- Jordan Greenwald - 5
- Anthony Bianchi - 5
- Betty Fulton - 4
- Matthew Oatley - 3
At the candidate's forum, Greenwald and Bianchi both were so enthusiastic for Gallina they would, if he was open to it, offer Gallina a 10 year contract.
A lot can go wrong with a superintendent's leadership model in ten years; even in five years.
Again: Wow! Is what Greenwald had done with the contract situation prudent and responsible boardmanship?
It is good for North Cantonians that Superintendent Gallina has some sort of sense of self-restraint. Greenwald and Bianchi are way over the top on the length of contract matter in suggesting ten years. One absolutely has to question their judgment.
The SCPR in this blog presents a number of videos (beginning with a SCPR question on BOE member and the role of critiquing in public meetings) of the responses of the candidates on Monday night past at the media center.
The Report believes the videos substantiate the notion that NCCS-BOE meetings are likely to remain largely worthless in terms of meaningful and incisive Q&A dialogue between board members, the administration and between the citizens of North Canton.
Over time it seems to The Report that the NCCS - BOE by virtue of its "at a distance" interaction model, are setting themselves, over the longer term, for lots of trouble in connecting with the North Canton community on various and sundry issues which are bound to pop up.
The priority criterion for voters to use in choosing among the five candidates this election cycle ought to be the two who will join board member Chris Thomas in pushing for more out in public scrutiny of administration officials as well as pressing each other in the public view to support their positions on particular issues that surface on data and public desires rather than loyalty to Superintendent Gallina and his staff.
Yours truly has 30 years of experience of attending boards of education meetings across Stark County (most in home township Lake) and it should not be lost on anyone that superintendents work very hard to get in place board members who are captive to the superintendent's viewpoint rather than in line with the citizenry who elect them and who pay the bill (either through local or state taxes) for local education.
It appears that Gallina has done of masterful job of putting himself and his administration ahead of the people of North Canton as the constituency of a majority of the current board.
While the SCPR does not endorse candidates per se, it seems as if the only hope that the "new" NCCS-BOE will be less fawning of the administration would be with Matthew Oatley and Jennifer Kling.
The Report has seen Kling in action on the ESP controversy and was impressed. Moreover, if she is anything like her mother, you can bet that she is all about open and forthright public engagement.
Here is what one Kling supporter has to say about her:
I see her as a candidate with intentions of restoring communication and transparency in the district after the deplorable display of poor decision making in the spring. Watching the board vote to enact the ESP after they were shown that there were still no firm financials, was motivation for her to run and restore that checks and balances. I know that she wants to involve community, parents, taxpayers, and more in future planning.
***Please note: none of my remarks are a direct representation of her campaign and views.***Here are the videos promised above listed by issues that the SCPR deems to be of prime importance as North Cantonians make their decision as to elect to the NCCS - BOE:
#1 - THE CRITIQUING FUNCTION OF BOARD MEMBERS
#2 - ROLE & RESPONSIBILITY OF BOARD MEMBERS
#3 - EXTENDING THE SUPERINTENDENT'S CONTRACT
#4 - THE ELEMENTARY SERVICE PLAN
#5 - STATE ISSUE 2 (THE ANTI-COLLECTIVE BARGAINING BILL)
#6 - FOUR DAY SCHOOL WEEK
#7 - THE ARTS CURRICULUM