Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lame duck school boards can do a lot of damage

Five incumbent members of the Owen J. Roberts School Board were ousted by district voters in the May primary election.

So what does the school board do at its June meeting? The board voted 5-4 to fire Superintendent Myra Forrest, who has a five-year contract that runs through June 2010. District taxpayers will pay Forrest's $165,000-a-year salary even if she sits at home for the next year.

Over in neighboring Pottstown, two incumbent school board members were ousted in the May primary and another two will probably lose their seats in the November election.

The current lame duck board is considering a recommendation from its personnel committee to extend the contracts of the superintendent and other top administrators for another three years.

The current contracts run through 2010 and the logical thing to do is allow the new school board to make a decision on the administrators. A vote on extending the contracts was tabled at the last school board meeting, but could be brought back at a future meeting.

What's the solution? Shouldn't there be a law in Pennsylvania that prevents lame duck school boards from making rash decisions that could impact taxpayers for years to come?

Or maybe a new law isn't needed. A judge in Schuylkill County has removed eight elected members from the North Schuylkill School Board in a case involving a superintendent controversy. See story in the Pottsville Republican.

Read more about the OJR superintendent firing in today's edition of The Mercury.

Also check out a Web site set up by critics of the school board decision,

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