This has been an unusual school board election to say the least. We’ve had a current school board member and an anonymous web site claiming everything from theft, mismanagement and poor teaching at the school. We’ve had a candidate plagiarize his answers that he sent us. At this paper, we’ve been called bullies for asking certain school board members to tell us their side of the story.
I’ve been in media for a while – and this is certainly one of the wildest local elections I can remember. With voting apathy at an all time high – I suppose the silver lining is that it’s nice to see people discussing an election.
However, while these rather sensational topics make for interesting reading, they possibly take away from the task at hand: Who are the best candidates for the job? Who should you vote for?
I cannot presume to know your beliefs. Therefore, I cannot tell you who to vote for. But I can speak to what the candidates have said they stood for. It will be up to you to align your beliefs with the candidates.
If you read the web sites, the letters and propaganda that support Jim Besancenez, Darin Keim, Laura Martin and John Beckett, it is clear that these individuals feel that there needs to be drastic changes within the school and it’s administration. They want big changes to what our children learn, who is teaching them and how the school is funded.
If you want massive changes and you are entirely unhappy with the Camdenton School District, then you must vote for Jim Besancenez (Mr. B) and Darin Keim. You must support Laura Martin and John Beckett. They have made it clear that their intentions are to change nearly everything at the Camdenton schools– a complete overhaul of the school system is what they desire.
I am not in that camp.
I’ve written before that one of the bigger reasons my family and I moved to the lake was that we felt that the school district was a good one. In the five years since, nothing has changed that opinion.
Have our children had teachers that we felt could have been better? Yes. Have there been classes and curriculums that we would have like to have seen something taught differently or in a different way? Yes.
But when you are trying to judge an organization as large as the Camdenton School District, you can’t look at a few issues – you have to look at the entire product. Most people I know take great pride in the “Laker Nation.” They are proud of the students, teachers and facilities. I happen to think they should be proud.
Page 2 of 3 - I think it’s a pretty darn good system.
I feel that we are on the right path. I acknowledge that we are not perfect. But I also believe that as a whole – the leadership in place works very hard to produce the best education for our children.
The very vocal supporters for Besancenez, Keim, Martin and Beckett will point out with great gusto that there are secret meetings and things not being told to you. Part of this is fantasy and part of it is true. The fantasy part works well into their rather sinister theory that things are being horribly mismanaged at the school or that education programs allowed by current administrators are warping our children’s minds.
The truth part (and I know this sounds odd coming from a guy in the media) is that some things should remain private when one is managing an organization the size of the Camdenton School District.
For example, was it best to have a split vote when renewing a contract of a school administrator? If board members wanted the employee to leave – then I suppose the answer was “yes.” Because I guarantee that when these employees found out they were one vote away from losing their job, they started looking for another one. Who wouldn’t?
Being kind, and assuming that the dissenting three (Besancenez, Martin and Beckett) were only trying to improve the performance or decisions of an employee, the far better option was to discuss their dissatisfaction (whatever it may have been because they won’t tell) with the rest of the board in executive session, outline those concerns to the employee and then vote as a group in total (unanimous) for renewing the contract. This gives the employee the opportunity to improve their actions. If they still don’t, then the board, as a group, can vote against the contract the next time it comes up.
It’s common sense. It promotes a fair and positive work environment. That type of work environment then attracts quality people.
But that’s not what is happening right now.
This is why I believe that Tom Williams is a candidate who would do very well on the school board. Tom is a long time resident at the lake, he has three children in our Camdenton schools currently and he’s well regarded in the community. But most importantly – Tom is the current HR director at the hospital. He knows how to manage employees. As part of his day job, he’s disciplined employees, initiated policy, handled employee disgruntlement and recruited professionals to the lake.
That type of addition to the school board would be invaluable right now.
Page 3 of 3 - My other pick for the two open positions would be current School Board candidate Nancy Masterson. Why? It’s simple really. It goes back to my belief that overall, especially when you consider the challenges of poverty in the area and funding that we receive and compare it to quality of education our kids are getting – it’s a very impressive school system.
Nancy has been on the school board that has overseen that school system for a very long time. Why would I want to change what I believe to be a good school district?
Rarely does a local election cause a dramatic turn in direction. Usually things will only change slightly with the election of a new board member. But this vote is different. This is a fork in the road. You can have complete change or you can continue with the type of leadership that has brought Camdenton to the school district it is. It’s that simple.
Unlike a national election, the reality is that only hundreds will vote – your vote will matter greatly. Please vote.