Monday, April 19, 2010


Back in August, 2009 Northwest Local Schools Board of Education member Jim Gindlesberger said:
"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."
Well, here we are on the threshold of May and the pertinent question that the SCPR believes Northwest voters need to ask themselves in deciding whether or not to vote for the 1% earned income tax levy for Northwest Schools is the standard posed by member Gindlesberger in the above quote.

Has the Northwest board and administration reestablished trust?

The school district is banking on a community survey done last year, a bunch of coffee klatches and the formation of four "independent" committees to analyze the operations of the district and make recommendations to the community as the bases on which it hopes to reclaim trust admittedly lost.

But not so quick.  Questions remain.

For instance, independent committees? 

The SCPR is skeptical.

What has gone on since last August seems more like a "quick fix," than it is about building a solid foundation of trust.  However, it may be a move in the right direction. Whether or not it is depends on there being a persistent, consistent post-May 4th follow up.

If the May 4th issue passes and it proves to be back to "business as usual," then when the next Northwest levy comes up a few years henceforth; voters will be a lot more cynical and district officials will have a much tougher sell facing them.

Even if the earned income tax does pass next month, over the long term problems will likely plague the district because the SCPR does not believe the basis of the passing will - on reflection - be perceived as having been on "restored trust;" rather it will likely - in hindsight - be seen as having passed more on the "fear" of losing the Northwest Local School District as it is now identified.

Recently, The Repository editors wrote an editorial supporting the tax (see Northwest tax came from ground up, April 14, 2010) buying the Northwest line.  In the piece, the editors show how utterly lacking they seem to be in analytical ability or inclination.  They took the official Northwest spin on faith: "lock, stock and barrel." Apparently, the editors think Northwest officials have achieved a "miracle" and that the community trust has been restored in less than a year?

While the SCPR thinks he (Repository commenter TMelvill - commenting on the Northwest editorial) overstates the case questioning the basis of the need for the Northwest tax (The Report believes there is a need), folks who think as he does (perhaps some may even be Northwest residents?) need to be engaged by school officials.  But officials seem to just want to "preach to the choir."

"Preaching to the choir" (independent? committees) is how the SCPR views large parts of the post-August, 2009 board/administration effort.

Consider part of TMelvill comments:
This has less to do about the kids, other than to use them for a popular slogan.

This is about tenure, wages, medical-dental-eye care benefits for teachers and their families, vacations and sick days and their accumulation for selling back at retirement, keeping out competition (charter schools), unions, double-dipping, exclusion of a huge market of qualified and degreed teacher candidates willing to work at 20% less wages and reduced benefits, and the list goes on and on.
If such viewpoints are not addressed by Northwest and school boards throughout Stark County, then Northwest-esque situations will become the norm.

The Northwest revenue issue may pass.  If it does or doesn't, the work that Gindlesberger fingered (the matter of trust) remains. But if the issue passes, will the "trust building work" be abandoned?

The SCPR does not for one minute think that the lack of trust in government is limited to Northwest or even to school boards.  It permeates more and more of the American political system.  Not just national and state government, but also our local government units.  It is a large part of what has become popularly known as "the teabagger movement."

It is high time that all levels of government recognize how much distrust government abounds within the general population and take measures to restore public confidence in the institutions of government.

And let it begin in Stark County from the county level of government down through all the political subdivisions!

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