School Administrative District 51 board member Bill Richards stated the public needs to be educated about the role of the board member: “It’s not the management of schools.” He equates the School Board to a private corporation board.
SAD 51 is a monopoly. Taxpayers with children can choose private school, but historically only 8 percent do so. Taxpayers without children have no choice. The elected official is the only tool to provide the force of the “market” and “shareholder.”
The purchase of the security system showed an abuse of power. More telling was the impulsivity shown. The tragedy of Sandy Hook was absolutely terrible, but it told us nothing new about risks. The SAD responded with false urgency that bypassed board protocol and competitive bidding.
The closure of school buildings showed a similar absence of management. Because of declining enrollment (a 15 percent drop over five years), in 2011 the SAD recommended closing the 11-classroom Drowne Road School, which had $320,000 left on its bond, to be retired in 2014. Next year, the SAD recommended spending $2 million for four classrooms and common space for the Greely Middle School, opened in 2004 to house 750 students. The proposed expansion is so the middle school can house 680. Why wasn’t the more affordable Drowne Road School kept for this “need”?
The SAD is a monopoly. The board members’ first responsibility is not advocacy for the SAD; it is to manage the SAD, extensively. The board is the market and our shareholder. Please micromanage our money.