Blast from the Past

Once upon a time (and a very fine time it was, for newspaper editors), in a county not so very far away, there was a school board of trustees whose behavior redefined the word ‘deplorable.’

The results, of course, were predictable. Failing or floundering schools, facilities fallen into disrepair, test scores that disappeared off the bottom of the graph and a revolving door in the Superintendent’s office. The tipping point finally arrived when AP courses magically vanished from the district’s curriculum a few years ago, placing the district in danger of losing its state accreditation. Even Fairfield County voters have their limits.

Course correcting a district that had veered so far astray for so long is not like turning around a Mini Cooper. It is more like turning around a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier. It is going to take some time, a bit of open sea in which to maneuver and the right person at the helm. After years of wandering in the wilderness, the Fairfield County School District at last appears to have that person, that person appears to have most if not all of the right staff and the first turns appear to be underway. The School Board, for the last two years, seems to have put behind it its internal struggles and misconceptions about its role. The past is the past.

Right?

Yes, but the past may also be prologue, and recent meetings of the Trustees have been what one might very nearly call “vintage Fairfield County School Board.” While the bickering has been comparatively minor, considering their antics of just a few short years ago, the 4-3 splits, the Abstainer from District 4, the inactivated microphone of District 2 and the indignation from District 1 all make it apparent that there is a none-too subtle undercurrent of discord brewing there. There clearly remains among one or more Board members the erroneous belief that they, and not the Superintendent, are responsible for the routine operations of the District; that they are invested with some sort of power, conferred upon them by their electorate, to administrate the daily business of the schools and the District.

It is also apparent that the Board member from District 4 continues to view the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) as an adversary, still smarting from the wounds of 2009.

With elections only eight months away, and with seats in districts 1,3,5 and 7 all on the ballot, Fairfield County voters should be paying close attention to what is at stake. A few votes either way could yank the Fairfield County School District from the brink of sanity and thrust it backward into its old routine – making plenty of headlines, but very little headway.

Forgive the past, but do not forget it. It might be gaining on you.

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