I’m PO’d, hot under the collar, frosted, steamed and then some over the primary election for Central Dauphin school board seats.
No, it has nothing to do with the results of the two contested races. The results were about what I expected – the November general election will be a replay of Tuesday’s primary.
What bothers me is the in-your-face apathy displayed by a majority CD residents in a time that has no room for “who gives a rip” attitudes. Out of the tens of thousands of adults in the two school regions with contested races, only 8,000 voters went to the polls. And that’s on top of a smattering – maybe 30 – who attended the candidates’ forum on May 7.
I’m also peeved because unless something changes soon, many CD residents are going to blow off the general election in November too.
Simply put, students can’t afford this kind of apathy. And here’s why:
When was the last you heard a school official say a district could run out of money? Probably never, right?
Well, it happened at a CD meeting a few weeks ago. And, by the way, it’s projected to happen in 2016, which is just around the corner.
The state pension system is killing CD and other school districts across the state with skyrocketing bills for school employees’ retirements. The annual cost is going up by a few million every year, and school officials – no matter who they are – can’t magically snap their fingers and find millions of new dollars year after year after year.
These times require people to serve on the school board who have the experience to tackle tough problems and to ask tough questions.
They need to be willing to lobby federal and state lawmakers who are killing public education with unfunded mandates, like pensions.
They have to communicate with the public and get citizens involved long before major decisions are made.
They need to be innovative.
And they need to stick to their guns when negotiating contracts with teachers and other bargaining units.
So, all CD residents of voting age have an assignment to do between now and the general election on November 5: get to know school board candidates Jay Purdy, Eric Epstein and incumbents Chris Judd and Linda Dallago so you can determine who has what it takes to address the current tough times.
I beg you not to wait until your elementary school is targeted to close, the school musical is dropped or a sports program is shut down to wake up and get up to speed on what’s happening.
I hope I’m in a better mood on Nov. 6.
CLICK HERE for a summary of Tuesday’s school board primary by Julie Mattera of The Patriot-News and PennLive.com.