Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2007

New board to bring fresh perspective

July 12, 2007

If newly elected board members Bill Fletcher and Tim Blankenship have their way this year, the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education will be a little more skeptical in its decision-making.

"I want to try to make sure the board of education provides efficient scrutiny of recommendations," said Blankenship, who represents Position 1.

Blankenship, Fletcher, Don Clark and Jim Thomas all will begin their new terms Monday at the first board meeting of the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Fletcher, who represents Position 3, said board members should receive more details on items they vote on.

"I'm not a rubber stamp person," he said. "They are going to have to explain to me and I am going to ask questions what is going on."

Don Clark, who is the at-large board member and last year's board president, said members have to ask questions to get answers.

"If somebody is saying that they are not getting enough information then they are not asking enough questions," he said. "If you don't have answers to the questions, let's keep asking them."

Thomas was not available for comment.

Blankenship and Fletcher also would like to see more options when selecting a construction manager for building projects instead of sticking with J.E. Dunn, the company that has handled the district's construction projects for more than a decade.

"To me, it wasn't so much how effective the construction company might be but the fact that the district's relationship with that one company has been going on without the chance of competition," Blankenship said.

Clark said he would like to have good reasoning and background information before changing a construction manager.

"Show me why and what are we going to gain on doing that," he said.

Another issue that some members disagree with is the upcoming bond issue. Question one calls for $51 million in building expansions, land acquisition, technology, security enhancement and an early childhood center. Question two calls for $19.5 million for artificial turf and new theaters. Question one must pass for question two to pass.

Fletcher said he isn't a supporter of either question on the bond issue. He said the artificial turf and theaters were unnecessary and that the first question was not a good enough package.

"I think this is the wrong bond issue at the wrong time," he said.

Blankenship too, disagrees with the second question but he does support the first.

"We do have a real short-term need for the first question," he said.

Clark, on the other hand, thinks both questions are needed. He said although not all members agree on the bond, the voters wanted something done.

"It was our job as a board that was there to take something to voters," he said. "We've done so and as a board we have to go out and let the community speak."

Clark said he hoped that despite differences of opinion, board members can come together and have one voice on whatever was decided at meetings this year.

"We may have differences of opinions but we have to send out one voice and support the board as a whole," he said. "I think where disagreements and differences of opinions need to be addressed is in the boardroom, not in the newspaper -- not I the community."

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