Confusion, dysfunction make it tough for schools to make progress.
Life events happen and, sometimes, one situation or another can lead to an elected public official finding it necessary to give up their duties and resign before a term is completed.
That’s not the problem with the Beloit Board of Education.
Or, if it is, the level of coincidence seems off the charts.
Back in August, board member Stephanie Jacobs quit. She expressed frustrations about what she perceived to be lack of progress in addressing important issues. At the time we observed that quitting is not the way to get things done or create improvements.
Last week, when the board was supposed to be appointing someone to replace Jacobs, the membership drain flushed again. Two more board members -- John Wong and Maria Delgado -- pulled the plug and resigned their positions.
The three remaining board members at the meeting -- President Megan Miller and married couple Amiee Leavy and Sean Leavy -- voted 3-0 to appoint Gregg Schneider, a former candidate, to replace Jacobs. With member Spencer Anderson absent, only the three members of a seven-member board cast votes.
Is that a quorum? Is Schneider’s appointment valid and legal?
Miller says yes, stating she has a legal opinion to back her up.
We’re not so sure. At the very least the action leaves a cloud hanging over the appointment.
Making matters worse for a board that can’t seem to keep its members, the Leavys are unable to serve on any committee where they would constitute a deciding voting block. Sorting out this cascading mess will not be easy.
Here’s the truly sad state of affairs. At the very least the challenged Beloit district needs consistency and competence at the board and administrative levels. Yet the board goes through members with whiplash frequency. Meanwhile, there’s been something of a revolving door at the administration building with superintendents and other high-ranking staff. Remember, another board member, then-President Kyle Larsen, quit in January 2021. And this wasn’t even the first time in recent memory that three board members left in quick succession. In the summer of 2018 members Laurie Endres, Kris Klobucar and Shelly Cronin abruptly walked out during a board dispute.
In all this drama it’s possible to lose sight that the real losers are the kids, their parents and the teachers and staff in the classrooms trying to provide a sound education. On any given day that’s a tough assignment. It’s made infinitely more difficult by the embarrassing dysfunction among the adults on the board.
Look, there’s no magic fix and we won’t pretend otherwise. More and better candidates for election would help. So would longevity, consistency and competence in administration.
Most importantly, the community -- not just parents, but other stakeholders as well -- must engage and demand more accountability. In any organization, leadership is everything. Achieving appropriate goals is impossible in an atmosphere of chaos and dysfunction.
On the immediate front, this school board once again finds itself with a need to recruit good members. Let’s hope truly talented, knowledgeable and experienced individuals can set aside their doubts and volunteer to serve.