Let's hope Prop P opportunity hasn't been lost
June 01, 2005 - To the Editor:
I wish I had been at the May 12 Mehl-ville school board meeting when Karl Frank introduced his motion for an independent commission to look into Prop P spending.
It sounds like it was a rollicking good time. In the Call's edited transcript of the proceedings, one gets the flavor, but perhaps not the essence of the discussion. But here's how I see it.
Mr. Frank's motion is a good starting point. He did, after all, run and win on a platform of seeking just such accountability, by way of working to restore the public trust.
But his motion was freighted with too much accusatory rhetoric, and furthermore long on suggestion but short on specifics.
I don't see at all what was wrong with Rita Diekemper's suggestion that the motion be cleaned up — strengthen its focus, specify what is meant by independent, specify a number of other things — and resubmitted at a subsequent meeting.
Mr. Frank thought this was a stalling tactic, but it is, for better or worse, how the work of such boards proceeds.
The Call commends Mr. Frank for introducing such a motion after being on the board for only a month, and I agree — it's a bold and likely necessary move. But Mr. Frank also needs the experience to understand, and perhaps the patience to bear, the sometimes glacial pace at which boards work.
He also needs to understand the necessity to form alliances and voting blocs on a board.
Sure, Tom Correnti's comments sounded uncompromising and stubborn. And any parent who faced the stony passivity of the Elementary Redistricting Committee a few years ago knows that Mike Heins doesn't know the meaning of words like "reconsider'' or "compromise.''
But Mr. Frank could do himself much good by listening closely to constructive suggestions from experienced, responsible board members such as Ms. Diekemper.
Now I fear the motion has been made and rejected, and that will serve as an ex-cuse to reject it out of hand even in a more carefully worded form.
Let's hope we haven't lost this chance.
Editor's note: A substitute motion by Mehlville Board of Education member Karl Frank Jr. to to have the Proposition P districtwide building improvement program reviewed by both an independent committee and a certified public accountant is scheduled to be considered June 16 by the Board of Education. The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the Administration Build-ing, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.