Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Incumbents Prevail in Board Race

I went to vote yesterday at about quarter to seven and I was only number nine at my polling place, a clue to the lack of interest in the school board race. The number matched the amount of residents who came out to the annual League of Women Voters candidates’ forum, which ended up featuring only two of the five candidates.

Having spared myself the agony of dialing up the City Clerk’s office for the results, I see that the online Courier News reports all three incumbents as winners. Three years ago, the slate faced eight other contenders for the three three-year seats. This year, there were just two others. Given the slew of problems in the 2007-08 school year, it is little wonder that people were not beating down the doors at 504 Madison to get petitions.

Interestingly, the 2005 top vote-getter, Agurs Linward “Lenny” Cathcart Jr., came in second this time. Cathcart won in 2005 with 1,320 votes, with Bridget Rivers receiving 935 and Vickey Sheppard getting 913. This time around, the Courier News reported 699 for Rivers, 656 for Cathcart and 626 for Sheppard.
Maybe it is a hint for Cathcart to polish up his board skills for the coming term, which promises to be as daunting as the past year. The board and new superintendent Dr. Steve Gallon III will be asked to do more with less, as state aid goes flat. The district is still in the process of dealing with state monitoring that found major deficiencies in four out of five performance areas. Gaps in the administration remain to be filled. Enrollment is declining as parents with the ability to seek other means of education step away from the public school system.

Voters were wise to return seasoned board members to the task of dealing with all these problems. Having had training on their roles, these three board members are more likely than newcomers to aid in the transition to a new chief school administrator. And of course, this time next year there will be another chance to run for the board. Yolanda Van Fleet, Jaclynne Callands and anyone else interested in serving on the school board can start this month to come out to meetings, learn the issues and gear up for 2009.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weren't they part of the board during all the problems. Seems to me we have the same people in place - nothing was done while they were in office, what do you think will happen now? What is the definition of insanity - doing the same thing and expecting different results? Time will tell.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sad number! If this is how concerned parents and people who live in Plainfield show their commitment to the children of Plainfield, God help teachers. Those people who didn’t think it was important enough to vote for the people who are in control of their children’s future should be ashamed of themselves.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Voters were wise to return seasoned board members..."

That's the kind of seasoning that gives me an upset stomach!

With all due respect, I don't follow your logic on this one. If your accountant messes up your tax return this year, should you hire the same accountant next year because he/she will have MORE EXPERIENCE?

The apathy in Plainfield is the reason why inept people are on the school board. They have no incentive to change if they keep getting elected and re-elected. There's only one way to send a message, and Plainfield voters simply don't want to send that message.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all of you who feel that the wrong thing happened in this election I must ask you what you did to make a difference. How many phone calls did you make to your family, friends and neighbors asking them to vote? Did you make a monetary contribution to any of the candidates to help them pay for the expensive signs that serve as a reminder that there is an election going on? Did you volunteer to help any of the candidates communicate with voters?

Getting information out to voters is very costly for any candidate in any election. All of the candidates, especially the challengers, ran very low budget campaigns. Most of the campaigning was done by word of mouth, as it should be.

School Board elections have low turnout everywhere in the United States. Election Day turnout is usually commensurate with the level of the top race on the ballot. So, for example, if it is a Presidential election year, turnout tends to be much higher. School Board elections, which are not held at the same time as other elections can only count on the turnout of those people who consider school board elections worth coming out for. The only exception to this is when the election is highly contentious, like when there is strong community opposition to a school budget that will raise local property taxes or when there is strong opposition for an incumbent or strong support for a challenger (none of which was the case in Plainfield this year with the exception of a few Monday morning quarterbacks).

My suggestion to those of you who are so upset about the "inept people" who are elected to the school board is that you should run for the Board of Education if you are so smart. Three seats are up for election EVERY YEAR! I have to question those who claim that they did not know there was a School Board election going on this year.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see, our choices were Bridget Rivers, Vickey Sheppard, Lenny Cathcart, Jacklynne Callands, or Virginia Van Fleet.

Bridget and Vickey? No problem.

Lenny? Hmm. Only if he would stop the fidgeting and loose the ear phone, maybe he wouldn't give himself up. Oh yeah! and please leave the sweat pants at home.

Jaclynne? She works for the city's lawyer. Another "greenie spy"?

Virginia Van Fleet? Doesn't anyone remember all of her skims?

The picked choices were the least of the evils. Maybe next year we'll get better candidates. On the meantime, let's hope the blogger's coverage continues to bring the school action closer to home. That's the only way accountability will settled in.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before you call someone a spy based soley on where they work, perhap you should find out more about that person, and the contributions they've made in the Plainfield Community, and the other persons name is Yolanda Van Fleet not Virginia. I wonder, other than giving your opinion what have you done in the community? There are so many positive things going on in the school that we never hear about, like the swim team and the debate team, Orator club they've done well for years. I hear comments like the board and teachers need to be held accountable, but when will the parents and bloggers be held accountable? Just something to think about.

10:51 AM  

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