It appears that the Buncombe County School Board is attempting to engage in Group Think and to stifle the responsibilities of each of the School Board members. Each member is elected by a district and is responsible to a district. He or she was never elected to somehow have his questions tempered to be those that are approved by some sort of majority thinking of a ‘Board.’ That flies in the face of reason.
When this Board, and in this case Rhinehart, says that under some sort of ‘code of ethics’ an individual member did not have the right “to require the superintendent and the administrative staff to spend significant time responding to an issue or idea that was not supported by the majority of the board,” he is engaging in pure chicanery.
First of all, the school administration is responsible to answer any questions from each of the members of the Board because each elected member has the individual responsibility to act on behalf of those who elected him. Otherwise the Board is simply trying to strip each member of his or her duly elected Constitutional obligation. That obligation cannot be legally negated by some sort of consensus ethics.
Secondly, the school “administration costs” exceed $15,000,000 per year, the superintendent costs exceed $185,000 per year, and his office totals exceed $485,000 per year. This is a lot of money and represents a lot of staff.
To say that no one Board member should ask a question because it may take a little time and effort to answer an inquiry is way beyond belief. $15,000,000 can answer a lot of questions from any one member of the school board. It belies any rational discussion of the problems the School Board faces to say otherwise. With a total budget of $218 million to oversee, it would seem appropriate for the Board to ask a few questions.
This policy should be overturned and thrown into the dustbin of unworthy ideas. It certainly does not help solve any significant problems, and serves only to stifle dissent and to break the light bulbs of transparency. The Board needs to welcome all the questions and inquiries that it can.