Overtime!

We Are EnterpriseI 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.

Reasonable Expectations?

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.

House Divided…again…really?

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.

Overtime!

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

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10 thoughts on “Overtime!”

  1. Stan, I thank you for your commentary and thoughts which express my opinion too. I hope that we will be able to get more young people, parents, etc. to attend the meetings of both the BOE and the City council. Please continue to be a voice for “the people”….thank you!

    1. Thanks Ann! I also think the crowds at the board meetings are critical to show the citizens are concerned and are watching. They have been very good lately. I just hope they continue to have good attendance and participation. As I said in this post I don’t have any plans now to write another one on this subject but that is always subject to change after the next meeting I attend, depending on what does or does not happen. If I think I do have something worth saying though I will say it. Thanks again for stopping by and reading and sharing your comments.

      1. Stan your comments were great. I share you feelings. I told the council a few meeting ago, that they needed to fix the problem. Maybe they will embrace Mark’s suggestion. If they don’t, I wonder if they will give a reason why not. I am so afraid that they will obligate the monies and use that as an excuse.

        1. Thanks Mr. Vickers. Yes, I thought about that too. The city could add whatever they want to spend money on to their liabilities to make it appear they are not doing as well financially and therefore would need the payment from the school system. If and that is a big IF they did amend the agreement as Mark suggested they could write it so that only the debt payment and existing payments the city is making are considered. Any new expenditures from some certain date would not be considered. I know it would not be as simple as it initially sounds but the framework Mark suggested could be used to make it work, IF, and there is that word again, both parties to the agreement really wanted to get this in writing and settled. It could be done. I appreciate all you have done and continue to do in keeping the issues alive until there is some resolution. Thanks for stopping by reading and your comments. Don’t let up.

  2. With malice toward none… it is my most candid and somewhat educated opinion that for the System to recover and at some point move forward Mr Cotter must either remove himself or be removed from his position on the board. If he did indeed care about the schools and if he indeed had selfless motives, he would have already stepped down.e

    1. I agree Bob and hope that is coming through on my posts. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. I try to be optimistic and hold out hope he will do what is best for the board and the city but, if not, then we will be forced to suffer through the cloud of doubt over this board for at least the next 3 years I believe. With the board members being appointed and apparently no way or authority for anyone to un-appoint them the board member has to put the welfare of the school system above their own ambitions or agendas and do what is right. Unfortunately I am not optimistic that will happen in this case.

  3. Thank you so much for your comments. I want to feel hope, but looking into Mr. Cotter’s eyes as I spoke made me feel that nothing made any difference to him. I do wish that I had followed up on Mr. Vickers’ statement that he had visited Cotter’s office to discuss the hiring of an interim, and that Cotter had suggested Mr. Baker. At that point, why did Vickers or any of the other board members not make their own suggestions? I should have mentioned that even considering one of our local choices (Morgan, Reeves or Phares) would have gone a long way to show a spirit of cooperation and conciliation. Oh well, we’re doing what little we can, and I appreciate your blog. Keep it up!

    1. Mrs. Carter – Thanks for stopping by, reading, and your comments. Also, as I told you Tuesday night, thanks for your comments at the last two board meetings. I believe they have been representative of what many would like to have said at the meetings and you have expressed them very well. I know it wasn’t easy. They were hard words but needed to be said. Please keep doing what you have been doing. The words you have spoken and how they have been expressed is helping to shine a light on exactly what the people of Enterprise are concerned about and would like to have addressed by the board, specifically Mr. Cotter.

      I am not sure, since the why has not been stated that I have heard, except from Ms. Jones as indicated below, why one of the local former superintendents or assistant superintendents were not considered. Ms. Jones indicated they were looking for someone from outside the area and Mr. Brown indicated they didn’t need to look at any other candidates since it was an interim position. I still do not understand that logic but that is what he said. As for showing a spirit of cooperation that is not a desire of Mr. Cotter from what I have seen. I thought that Mr. Vickers was the one who brought up Mr. Baker as a candidate since he knew of his reputation in education in Alabama and had worked with him in the past but may have not heard that correctly.

      I do know, from working in business for years, that bringing in an outside consultant has benefits of a fresh set of eyes on any operation and often new ideas and suggestions to improve the business or operation. However, in this particular situation in Enterprise right now, it does seem like an opportunity to show a spirit of cooperation by at least considering any of our very competent local choices was missed. The way I look at it is Mr. Baker was a good choice to fill the interim superintendent role. There are usually several good choices for any situation but only one best choice. Whether he was the best choice for Enterprise at this time is debatable.

  4. Since I myself came to the System with a new set of eyes, I see some merit in this for the interim ; however, many of the very qualities which have created a solid,successful mode of operation are ones currently at risk,beginning with a board with ulterior motives…and a lack of trustworthiness. WE WILL NOT KEEP THE QUALITY OF SUPT NOR MAINTAIN THE CALIBER OF SCHOOLS THAT THAT WE’RE ACCUSTOMED TO WITH THIS BEING SO.

    1. Well said. I agree with the current board chairman and the lack of trust it will be difficult to find a new superintendent who will be able to do his or her job. Any peers of our former superintendent, Mr. Milner, will in all likelihood contact Mr. Milner to get his input on working in this environment before applying and will make their decision with that information in mind. I suspect that many who would be qualified and make a good superintendent will just choose not to apply because of this. And, as I continue to say, any decision by this board will be looked at with suspicion due to the lack of trust.

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