School board members deserve respect

Published 6:06 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

Dear Editor,

Paige Matthews, Susan Matherly and Lori Finke are impressive school board members who are open to people’s concerns. All three diligently study and carry out their duties. They are involved in our schools; they care about the performance and reputation of our district. They also have to make tough decisions. 

I am disappointed by accusations from educators that the actions of these board members would involve anything less than deep respect for a fair process and thoughtful action.

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As a former member of the Danville school board, I greatly appreciate and support their service. I also salute the time and care offered by their fellow members Troy McCowan and Steve Becker. I know that all five will give fair consideration to any complaints and work to move forward in a positive spirit. We can’t let contentious issues tear us apart.

Our superintendent — as is now clear — became what the leader of a school system that asks much of its taxpayers and faces serious achievement issues cannot become: deeply polarizing.

As a concerned citizen of the Danville Schools for well over a decade, I recognize that people with serious and legitimate concerns about the leadership of the district are often reluctant to speak out publicly because they are afraid their statements will be seen as criticisms of a school district they prize. Many employees and their relatives rightly fear that any openly negative statement would invite retribution. There are good people with divided views even when one side may feel more open about speaking out.

With the superintendent’s contract ending, I fully agree with the board’s decision that the best way forward is with a fresh start and a leader skilled at listening to, valuing and bringing together everyone who values and contributes to our schools. That is an essential step toward making good on our community’s potential and addressing the big challenge of preparing far more Danville students to thrive in a changing world. We should all respect the good people who have stepped up to serve on our school board.

Lonnie Harp