A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

The packed boardroom

May 23, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

We did it for football, so let's do it for other education issues as well

There has been high community interest this spring in the resignation of the Riverton High School football coach and process to replace him.

Well and good. Very. But it would be wonderful if a similar level of public interest, concern and focus were brought to bear on other educational issues in the community.

How often does the school board meeting room get packed to standing room only? That's what happened a few weeks ago in the meeting about the football coach. Again, that was great to see. As one school board member put it that night, the outpouring of attendance and attention exemplified "Democracy 101."

Meanwhile, Fremont County School District 25 has numerous crucial matters facing it, most of them unrelated to football. One school is being packed to its gills to try to comply with the state rule on classroom size -- crowding to ease crowding in other words. Simultaneous to that, the state is looking at shelling out a large sum of money to buy another elementary school --again with the 16:1 student/teacher classroom ratio in mind.

Issues related to the "Common Core" curriculum have wide implications for students, teachers and teaching in the district.

Driver education, a standard course offering in the school district for more than 50 years, is being discontinued starting next fall.

Our school district has no auditorium-style public performance space to call its own, a drastic shortcoming for any school district and particularly one in the Class 4-A category.

Questions and concerns related to Riverton's ability and willingness to host state culminating events or regional tournaments and festivals cropped up repeatedly this spring.

An entire generation of experienced schoolteachers hired in the 1970s is now retiring by the half-dozen every year, resulting in a near 100 percent turnover in the teaching faculty in the course of a decade.

Policies tied to school security, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, school board vacancies, transportation, arts curriculum, vocational education, dual-credit enrollment with community colleges, and distance education are among the many other vital concerns that confront our public schools.

Anyone who reads our newspaper knows our affection for high school football, but it's easy to make the argument that these other educational issues are at least as important as who the football coach is.

So let's pack the boardroom more often.

Let's pack the boardroom when the meeting is about something other than football. Let's pack the boardroom because we recognize that these issues are important. Let's pack the boardroom because the school district welcomes our participation. And let's pack the boardroom because the community needs to keep an eye on what the school board is doing as well.

Almost everything in civic procedure works better when more people are involved and engaged. During the coaching crisis, that point was proved. We ought to keep proving it in other areas.

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