THE READERS EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS IN ‘LETTERS TO THE EDITOR’

Setting The Record Straight On Extending Contracts For School Administrators

Dear Editor:

     First of all, extended contracts should be for superintendents only. The practice of extending contracts for others than a superintendent started two superintendents ago when district history, policy, procedure and protocol were discarded and cast to the wind. The rationale given was that you extend the contract in order to keep administrators in the district as there seems to be a shortage of not only teachers, but good administrators.

     Flawed thinking, however. I have heard people say, “You have to givea them a chance. They have only been here six months or part of a year. You don’t know what they can or can’t do.” (True, but that could be positive or negative.) If not knowing what one can do is the case, then one’s original contract would be the trial period to see exactly what the individual can do. One would wait to see what any individual does in his/her original contract term in order to determine continued employment. Then, one would need evidence and data to give validity to a contract extension.

     Was there an impact on student achievement? Did the person have a positive effect on teaching and learning? What did the individual’s evaluation look like? Did he/she meet or exceed expectations? How? What do staff feel about the individual? Is the individual a “team player”…does he/she work well with all staff, parents and students? And finally, is the individual an asset to the district/community? Granting an extended contract before an individual proves any of these points is taking a severe chance. What if the person does NOT work out? What if the impact on teaching and learning is negative? What if he/she does not prove to have a positive impact on teaching and learning or student achievement?

     With a multi-year contract, the district is stuck and the only recourse is to “buy out” the person who had time left on his/her contract. These reasons are why no district administrator should initially have a multi year contract. In the past, building level principals never had multi-year contracts, nor should they. I was one of those principals and we worked on an annual basis….we were granted “continued employment” based upon our annual evaluation. If something was wrong or needed, we had a “remediation” plan and had to address it successfully or lose our job. It was that simple.

     Once again, we see an example of flawed leadership with this board of education. Extending multi-year contracts without evidence of positive impact or successes, without solid, validating data from an evaluation and without faith in the individual being exhibited by staff, (as noted by the DEA and DFTA).

B.A. Buttz, Decatur

Truck Traffic On West Mound Road, Downtown Is Disappointing.

Dear Editor:

     We live just off West Mound road. West Mound is suppose to be residential traffic only. 30 mph. No heavy trucks. Since Loves Truck Stop has opened so has West Mound Road for heavy truck traffic. All hours, day and night —truck traffic. Singing tires and Jake brakes. Now let me say this — a Jake brake for those who don’t know, is a system in the truck that allows you to slow the vehicle without actually using the foot brake. It’s loud and obnoxious. It actually rattles house windows. West Mound Road is not made for 80000 pounds plus traffic.

     The road is being destroyed. Safety is being ignored. West Mound turns into 4 lanes at Karen Dr. which is still residential, but not big enough for a car and a semi to be side by side. I also am disappointed in the amount of semi traffic I deal with in downtown Decatur where it is also illegal so this further disappoints this resident as to the issue on Mound being corrected in a timely fashion. Let ecommerce, taxes continue but ignore the safety and peace of a long established neighborhood.

Rocky Daniels, Decatur

New State Law Lets Credit Unions, Bank Charge Fee If There’s No Activity In Your Account For A Year

Dear Editor:

     A new state law took effect this year for credit unions and banks. They can charge your account a service charge if no activity is on the account for a year. It then goes into a dormant account. Letters were sent to customers about this matter, but unfortunately I didn’t receive mine from Decatur Earthmover Credit Union until there was only $1.00 left in the account.

     I contacted a personal banker at the Credit Union to get the service fees reversed, but she said the money went to the state and couldn’t refund it. I worked at a bank for many years and dormant account were sent to the state in a lump sum, not fee of $3.00 a month. Decatur Earthmovers had a right to add a service charge to my account because of the new law, but don’t say it went to the state.

     I closed my account of $1.00 and gave it to charity. I no longer do any business with Earthmovers.

Charlotte Pickett, Decatur

Restricting The Ability For Public Comment At Council Meetings Was Shortsighted

Dear Editor:

     Eliminating the ability of citizens to comment after each agenda item, a measure the Decatur City Council approved by a 4-2 vote, was unnecessary, unjustified, and gives citizens reason to conclude that some council members are not interested in public participation or diverse viewpoints.

     Prior to the vote, citizens provided excellent perspective and suggestions for improvement to the proposed policy. I respect the perspectives of our citizens and my colleagues, and every council member should have an opportunity to express their view (Councilman Walker could not attend the meeting).

     For these reasons, Councilman Faber made a motion to table which I seconded. The council voted 4-2 against. In doing so, those council members repressed not only viewpoints of the community, but my colleague on the council. The city stated the new policies were to “make public meetings more efficient and to maintain civility and decorum throughout public meetings.”

     The city provides no evidence meetings are inefficient, and if the city wanted more “efficient” meetings, it should not be at the expense of less citizen participation. Often, the best input and expertise comes from our citizens. It is unlikely restricting public comments will maintain “civility and decorum” and reduce the number of personal attacks on council members. Very few individuals are responsible for personal attacks and personal attacks have been taking place on council members for years.

     The more likely outcome of the prohibition of public comment after each agenda item will be to lower contributions by those who currently comment at meetings and reduce the desire of others to attend and participate in the meetings. It is important to note that the city first proposed eliminating public comments after each agenda item at its September 23, 2019 meeting, which was prior to council votes to prohibit cannabis-related businesses in Decatur. Thus, suggestions that eliminating public comment after each agenda item is in response to personal attacks associated with cannabis-related decisions are inaccurate.

     Less public participation will undoubtedly lead to poorer decision making by the council at the very time the city faces significant and growing challenges. The best solutions often come from the public, and we need a city government that is open, transparent, and embraces citizen voices. I am strongly opposed to restricting the ability of the public to comment at city council meetings. Unfortunately, some city council members have created barriers to citizen participation and to solving our collective problems.

David J. Horn, Decatur City Council

1 Comment

  1. Tom Wilson on February 28, 2020 at 5:11 am

    Dear Editor:
    This is in response to Mr. Mike Griffin’s editorial. Mr. Griffin I see you found the cool aid aisle.

    Tom Wilson

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