Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

School board needs oversight

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I am glad that the County Council is taking seriously its oversight of the Board of Education, which seems to believe that its actions are above scrutiny (‘‘Council oversight of school system cuts both ways,” Aug. 15 article).

Public schools account for half of the county budget — reason enough to subject them to an appropriate level of scrutiny. Council oversight is essential to give citizens some checks and balances on the otherwise unfettered school board, the school system and the superintendent, particularly when the board fails to do its job.

An example of this was the abysmal board behavior this year when the superintendent admittedly rushed to close down special education and at-risk student programs without appropriate notice, time and community input, in violation of procedures for major policy changes. How did board members respond to the requests for more community involvement? By reducing any citizen’s time to comment at hearings from three minutes to two.

So, to those council members who dared to question the board: Thank you.

Alice Kirkman, Rockville