I did not plan for this subject to be an ongoing series but since this is now my third post on the subject I guess it now qualifies for that status. Much like Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Stinnett expressed at the most recent board meeting they did not want to be there speaking the hard truths and asking the hard questions, I did not want to write this.
However, the story continues and continues to be compelling to me and the hundreds of interested and involved citizens who care enough to continue to attend the Enterprise City School Board meetings each month to support Enterprise City Schools.
No desire or effort from board president
Apparently the president of the school board, Mr. Cotter, is satisfied that the concerns and claims regarding his behavior outside the scope of school board policy are baseless and not worthy of a response.
The continued silence by Mr. Cotter indicates to me he has no desire to gain the trust and confidence of the citizens of Enterprise which is bad for the school board, the students, and the city of Enterprise. Since he has chosen not to respond to any of these claims we are left to make our own assumptions. Apparently, he believes his actions and indifference toward the citizens is the best way for the school board to function. If he did not believe this he would remove himself from the situation, which would resolve a large part of the problem.
I do not share his opinion. I believe Enterprise can do better. Based on the large crowds that continue to attend the board meetings and comments I have heard from many of those in attendance his opinion is not shared by many.
The message I get from his silence is the claims do have merit. If they did not, why would he not respond and at least make an attempt to set the record straight? Unless and until a credible response is given I expect that will continue to be the common assumption of most and the shadow of doubt I wrote about before will remain over every action taken by this board, regardless of the actions of any of the other board members.
Some bright spots
There have been some bright spots in the last couple of meetings primarily from the two newest board members, Mr. Barr and Mr. Vickers. There was actual discussion prior to the decision as to how to conduct the search for the new superintendent. It was a special meeting so no input from non-board members was allowed but at least we did get to see and hear some of the thought process and discussion before a decision was made.
In the most recent board meeting, Mrs. Stinnett was successful in getting the board members to answer questions. That, in itself, was an achievement. Everyone will interpret the answers and discussion based on their own filters but answers and discussion are positive signs.
I don’t expect any decision made by this board or any other board to please everyone. That just doesn’t happen in any venue. I don’t believe that is a reasonable expectation.
However, if the people of Enterprise believe the decisions being made are being made with the right intent and logical alternatives have been considered and the board members are being honest and open in discussing the issues that come before them, that would be a move in the right direction to relieve some of the tension between the school board and the citizens. We can and should expect this.
However, with a board president few, if any, expect to follow these criteria it will remain an uphill battle.
Dorothy Richardson spoke representing the Coffee County Training Center (Coppinville) Alumni Association about the possibility of closing Coppinville Junior High School which that group had asked her to do. When she attempted to speak for the citizens of Enterprise and apologize for them she lost me. I don’t know if some citizens of Enterprise did ask her to speak for them or not but I know I didn’t and sensed most of those there did not either as her comments received only murmurs, no applause.
Among other things, she said those who have something against someone else should forgive them. That just doesn’t make any sense at all to me. In order for forgiveness to happen, someone has to admit they did something wrong then ask for forgiveness. When that has occurred then forgiveness can be granted. Based on what we have been told and not told by Mr. Cotter, Ms. Jones and Mr. Brown there is nothing for us to forgive them for. So forgiveness is not an option we have. You cannot forgive someone for something they don’t believe they have done.
If anyone were to walk up to these three board members and say, “I forgive you” they would likely get a blank stare because they do not believe they have done anything that needs to be forgiven.
The house divided quote was expressed by Ms. Richardson again at this meeting – yes, it really was – but as I mentioned in an earlier post, while it is true it really does nothing to help resolve this issue.
Ultimate example of forgiveness
Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness but even He requires us to ask for forgiveness. It is available to all but we have to admit we have sinned and repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness to receive forgiveness. All three of those requirements for forgiveness are missing in this ongoing issue.
No attempt at healing
Unlike Ms. Richardson, Rosemary Carter expressed the sentiments of many there, including me. She said that she wanted healing between the two sides of this issue but that would not happen until both sides made an effort toward it.
“I agree there is division, but instead of wanting to solve our problems or trying to make things better, it seems the attitude of city leaders and board members is to wish the problems, and we, would all go away,” Carter said. “I continue to be amazed that (you) cannot or will not understand why we are so upset.” More Questions Arise During BOE Meeting, Southeast Sun
I do not get the sense the people are going away any time soon. I know I plan to attend as many school board and city council meetings as I possibly can. Although she did not name a board member specifically, everyone in the room knew who she was talking about and to. If Mr. Cotter did not realize she was talking about his actions then he is in some deep deep form of denial or simply doesn’t care.
When Mr. Brown claimed, if “past president Mark Jipson had done his job, the board chairman would have already been selected,” More Questions Arise During BOE Meeting, Southeast Sun The logic of that claim and how it evolved into Mr. Brown nominating Mr. Cotter for board president escapes me.
Mark Jipson stood and asked to speak to refute that claim. However, Mr. Cotter adjourned the meeting without allowing him to speak.
If someone not part of the agenda is accused of something and brought into the meeting by comments made to or about them by a board member and wants to refute an accusation or provide an explanation it seems reasonable to me they should be allowed to speak. Evidently, that did not seem reasonable to Mr. Cotter.
Anyway since Mr. Jipson was encouraged to speak by those in attendance he did speak after the meeting had been officially adjourned. All of the board members, and everyone else, did stay so they did hear what he had to day.
Elegant in is simplicity
Speaking to the ongoing bond repayment issue, specifically regarding the agreement between the city and the school system the solution Mr. Jipson proposed was elegant in its simplicity. Both parties say we are going to work together when the time comes. If that is really their intent then they should both be willing to put that intent in writing now and put this issue to rest.
According to Mr. Jipson, they should amend the existing agreement to state, “If the revenue streams are large enough to pay for the bond debt, the school system will be waved of $550,000 for that year and if they’re insufficient, the school system will pay up to and not exceeding the amount that was agreed upon.” More Questions Arise During BOE Meeting, Southeast Sun
That is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” solutions for me.
This is something that could be done and done quickly and would put this issue to rest if that really is the intent of both parties.
As always, their actions (or failure to act) will speak louder than their words.
Enterprise City Council Meeting Next Tuesday
The next opportunity for action on this issue is the next City Council meeting next Tuesday night. Maybe if people let their councilman and mayor know they think this is a good solution action will be taken to start this amendment process. You can find their phone numbers here
Anything short of that indicates their desire for this issue to remain an issue and to hold the upper hand until the “time comes” and their prior words really were just empty words that meant nothing.
That is my take. Let me know yours in the comments.
Until next time…
Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 08/01/2013