All too often, when sensitive issues reach public debate, the true meat of the matter is lost in the banter. Protests gain a life of their own, for better or worse.
Fortunately, three Clearview communities protesting the potential loss of their schools generally stuck to the game-plan and got the results they wanted last week when the school board almost unanimously voted against a motion to consider closing small schools in Brownfield, Byemoor and Donalda.
They at least gained a stay of execution as the Clearview School Division adjusted its plans and decided to review all schools in the coming year.
In true community fashion, the threatened schools and communities reacted early and often after the original Oct. 25 motion. Communities made a case for the value of their schools, both in the education of students and in the fabric of each village in question.
Three weeks later, when the board heard from those community delegations at a meeting last Thursday, it was apparent from the get-go that the Clearview board would change its course and study the volatile issue at greater length than it had done so in the past.
Even before the meeting, it became apparent that a changeup was forthcoming as the Clearview administration and a couple of trustees softened their stance in media contact last week. In a couple of cases, unfortunately, they tried to shoot the messenger. One trustee said she was misquoted, or taken out of context, even though her comments were quoted directly. Perhaps more disconcerting was a “directive” from the administration suggesting that media types were not permitted to record proceedings of meetings. Not only is such a suggestion gobbledygook in these democratic times, it’s also most disturbing to hear it come from an organization that purports to represent the public trust.
After all, it’s called “Clearview Public Schools,” and the public stakeholders spoke in volumes last week.