A small but dedicated group of citizens have attended most of the Lake Pend Oreille School District school board meetings over the past year and a half. They watched issues evolve. They have read the facilities master plan in its entirety and many other documents. The school board will not answer questions or allow feedback during the course of their meetings. The public may attend, but comments are restricted to three minutes and to the time before agenda items are discussed. Many times issues emerge during the meetings which are not specifically mentioned on the agenda and beg for clarification, but the publicís only option is to sit silently and watch.
Last fall, the superintendent formed a facilities planning committee without extending an invitation to the public at large. Eight of the 13 members had direct ties to the school, and three others had strong interests to the city of Sandpoint. This was NOT a “broad based group of community members,” as described in the levy mailings. Their meetings were unknown to the public, closed to the public, and there are no minutes to even review.
In the spring, the school district held informational meetings about the levy at each school, but for staff only. There were no agendas or minutes for these in-house meetings. In fact, some employees were not even allowed to attend. The information was spoon-fed by the superintendent to those he deemed worthy of the right to know.
In June the superintendent and school board chair sent an informational flyer to staff and parents. Again, they selectively targeted only the education community. There was no outreach to other taxpayers. It became obvious they did not want to educate property owners in the general public who would be footing this bill.
A grassroots effort spread like wildfire. Once people looked at the facts surrounding this levy they were outraged. As the message grew, the attacks and threats by levy supporters began. Numerous lawn signs have been stolen in an effort to thwart the opposition.
Though the Reader printed a 1000-word article on the levy last week, I was denied equal space. My option was this 400-word letter to the editor. Ironically, silencing those who have questions or opposing viewpoints is systematic by the district and their network. Thereís so much more to this issue. The rest of this article will be available for reading at lposdlevy.com
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