2006-08-17 / Editorial

The circus across the bridge

If you haven't been to the circus lately, you might want to try a meeting of the utterly dysfunctional North Kingstown School Committee, which this week took up two long meetings deciding to essentially adopt the recommendations of the school superintendent after rejecting the same motion twice in two sessions.

The Aug. 15 meeting played out like a cross between an episode of Jerry Springer, a WWF wrestling match, and "Divorce Court" as the sixmember school board spent the great majority of a 4.5-hour meeting wasting time, pointing fingers, shaking their heads, and even walking away from the table in disgust.

The hatred these six adults have for one another is palpable. The first argument came less than 10 minutes into the meeting. It was painful. At one point, a high school student in the audience addressed the board. "I think you guys need to learn to co-exist," she said. "You should be setting an example for us," the teen told the adults, adding, "Your behavior is not that great." And the sad part is that the teen was more articulate than virtually any member of that committee on that night.

While there was just one item on the Aug, 15 agenda, the NK committee made no fewer than eight motions on school starting times, several motions to stop the debate for a vote, and several motions to amend amendments to previous motions that ensured both the school board and members of the audience that, at any given time, no one really knew what the current motion on the floor was.

The board took up an hour dickering over the town's bus schedule, which had been put together by North Kingstown's transportation guru, despite repeated attempts by the school administration to get the board to understand that no module of the schedule could be changed without affecting the entire schedule. But the six board members pressed on, micro-managing day-to-day activities of the schools and ignoring their main mission to set policy and protect the taxpayers' hard-earned bucks.

Committee leadership consisted of invoking Roberts' Rules of Order, while shouting down members who were exasperating in their efforts to continue long-dead or irrelevant discussions.

While the Jamestown school district has researched high school options in recent years and decided that at the present time North Kingstown High School is the best option for Jamestown teens, neither Jamestown nor North Kingstown students are being served by a school committee that is focused on an agenda of conflict and controversy. We hope that come election day, North Kingstown shows its displeasure by wiping the slate clean and starting over with a fresh school board.

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