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OUR VIEW: Field board needs to put kids first

Atmosphere of divisiveness and upheaval must come to an end

Published: March 13, 2013 4:00 AM

The Field Board of Ed-

ucation probably acted wisely in pulling a school levy from the May ballot. Given the atmosphere of divisiveness surrounding the board and the schools, it's hard to believe that any appeal to the voters for more funds stood a chance of passage.

That's unfortunate, because there is no question that the Field schools need more money to fulfill their mission -- to provide the young people of Brimfield and Suffield with the education that they deserve. Sadly, it seems as if that mission has been obscured by the bitter division within the school board, which fostered the upheaval that led to the dismissal of Superintendent Beth Coleman.

The polarization of the board has led repeatedly to 3-2 decisions; even the vote Monday to take the levy off the ballot was a divided one. Barring a change in the make-up of the school board, any hope of consensus seems to be lost.

The 5-mill levy that had been placed on the May ballot was a compromise measure that would have raised enough money to have covered expenses for the foreseeable future. Without the additional funds from the levy, drastic cuts will be necessary to balance the budget -- and those will be cuts on top of the austerity measures that already have been put into place.

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Mounting a campaign to pass the levy would have been a formidable challenge during ordinary circumstances, given the fact that Field voters have repeatedly scorned previous levy tries. Given the present atmosphere in the district, campaigning for a levy in May would have been an impossible undertaking. Levy committee members acknowledged that in remarks to the board Monday.

The alternative facing the board is to put the levy before voters during a special election in August. And, given how many in the Field district seem to feel about recent developments, that's going to be a hard sell.

In the meantime, we hope that the board is able to get its act together and find a way to agree on a successor to Superintendent Coleman, if not a permanent appointee, then an experienced interim superintendent, ideally one with a track record for passing levies (not to mention dealing with fractious school boards.)

We also hope that board members can put personalities aside and work toward reaching consensus on decisions impacting the education of the young people of the Field district. It is time to park the politics. Until and unless that happens, the survival of the district could be in jeopardy.


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whizzard Mar 19, 2013 10:21 AM

I have on numerous occasions requested information from that school district. Both Coleman and the Treasurer have ignored those requests.

It was being non-transparent that led Coleman to her demise and it won't be long before the treasurer will go the same route. If you are not open and honest with the people, you will hit a nerve that can't be mended.

Coleman leaving will be the best thing ever to happen to Field.

I am still waiting for those reports.

Martin Fleming

Ian_Maserb Mar 13, 2013 8:53 AM

Choice? In a free country? Never!

watchingthewatchers Mar 13, 2013 8:25 AM

Answer: Union contract renegotiation. The other unions have already given concessions(UAW, USW, etc..). Why are the NEA and AFT so special? If they don't like it, their union shouldn't have backed a job-killing despot like Obama, or other socialist anti-industry politicians. Voting Green makes your green disappear.

Our descent from 1st world schools to sub-standard to embarrassment parallels the rise in power of the teachers unions. Get rid of them, or at least give teachers a choice of whether they want to join those corrupt organizations.

rtawney Mar 13, 2013 7:52 AM

I have the answer put a school levy on the ballot and call it a police levy and then blame the Board of Election for the mess up. I am sure the folks of Brimfield would never notice and it would surly pass