Why didn’t board, parents show up?

Published 12:52 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Andalusia Board of Education is about to make perhaps the biggest decision it has made since the city’s elementary schools were merged, and it appears it will do so without much public input.

The elected leaders of our city school system are considering a proposal to close Andalusia Middle School, moving sixth grade to Andalusia Elementary School, and seventh and eighth grades to Andalusia High School. New wings will be built at each location to accommodate the additional students.

If approved, this proposal would affect every student in the system in some way. And that’s why it’s puzzling that only about 20 people, two of five board members, and one school administrator attended a meeting Thursday night hosted by Superintendent Ted Watson and designed to answer questions and gather input about the impending decision.

Many among the 20 who had questions attended AMS when it was Woodson High School. The best answer they got was “the wiring is bad and this will save us money.” There was no mention of plans to build the additions to sustain storm winds, and make those the shelters for all students during bad weather. At least that’s what inside sources tell us; we’ve yet to hear that publicly.

There were precious few parents of current students in attendance.

There are many things that could be surmised from this. First, parents think this is a great idea and have no questions. We can’t help but wonder why parents would express questions and/or opposition about the issue on Facebook and not make the effort to go to a meeting and get answers to those questions. Secondly, at least three board members appear not to be interested in what local residents might have to say about the issue. Does that mean their minds are already made up? And if they had legitmate excuses, isn’t this issue important enough for them to have said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there because …”

We wonder.

The last time the board made a decision of this magnitude, much effort was made to allow parents to have input. That, and the willingness of parents to express their opinions, appear to be missing in this decision. With such apathy, there should be no complaints when this plan is implemented.