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posted: 3/20/2010 12:01 AM

Listen if you ask for input

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Why Geneva's school board waited to hold a public forum on March 6, only two days before voting on proposed cuts, speaks volumes as to how much they really want community input.

Nevertheless, more than 100 people showed up to respond to proposed reductions and cuts in school staff and programs.

Most taxpayers questioned the proposed elimination of the Accelerated and Enrichment Coordinator's position, arguing the loss of her managerial expertise would hurt student achievement. Board members Mark Grosso and Leslie Juby also spoke out against the cut.

Administrators told parents that A&E responsibilities would be picked up by other school personnel.

As the concerns increased, board member Bill Wilson took it upon himself to put the question to rest. The woman had been moved, he boomed. She was now in a teaching position. Others were doing her job for her. Her removal did not impact the program.

So there!

I was stunned. Wilson had indirectly berated everyone who offered well-meaning input. This was the second forum at which Wilson stymied public input. In November 2009, the audience stared and were shocked, when he shouted down resident Rich Hayhurst after invading his personal space. Here was a constituent taking the time to come to a meeting and present suggestions being intimidated by a board member.

If Wilson is, as President Stith announced, the board's "elder statesman," such insensitive behavior is its own best argument for board member term limits.

Oh, well. Why gripe? Geneva's board will continue to do what it wants, listening, but not hearing.

Just another example of bad manners.

Richard Holinger