District electors should take lead on consolidation
To the Editor:
Five months have passed since the Bessemer Area Schools’ $7 million bond proposal was decisively rejected by district voters.
Rather than accepting the vote as an informed decision, our school board is bogged down in a tiresome display of petty bickering, frivolous recall petitions and repackaging another doomed bond proposal. Most recently, our board is looking into moving the elementary school from one obsolete building to another obsolete building.
Regarding the issue of the day, consolidation, our board is unwilling to even conduct a survey, let alone demonstrate any leadership on the issue. One gets a sense our board is clueless and at odds with a great number of their constituents.
Considering our school board’s recent performance and the precarious condition of our schools’ finances and buildings, it’s time for district electors to take the initiative. In my opinion, we should begin the legal process and submit the consolidation question to Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco voters during 2014. If approved by a majority of voters in both districts, the two schools would be consolidated, with or without the blessings of our school boards.
When district electors initiate the process, they request their intermediate school district have the state board approve a petition process. When the state board does so, the district electors then circulate petitions and gather signatures for a consolidation ballot.
As far as I know, at this time there has not been state board approval of any petition process. Any rumors that consolidation petitions are being circulated in the Bessemer or Wakefield-Marenisco districts are not true.
Michigan statutes also give school boards authority to approve a consolidation ballot by resolution. This would avoid the time and expense of the petition process by district electors. Considering our school board’s lack of vision, I can’t imagine them approving a consolidation ballot.
Fortunately, Michigan allows our district’s electors to take leadership on the issue. Our school board leaders can follow.