Governing is hard. That’s the one reality check neophyte politicians confront at every level – from small towns to the federal government — after being sworn into office, often elected on platforms that amount to “trust me.”
Governing is especially hard if you don’t show up.
That’s what appears to be happening more and more in Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, where the school board could not conduct its Nov. 12 committee of the whole meeting because only three of the seven board members showed up.
One of the board members, Joanne Schaeffer, was absent, because she is still recovering from heart surgery. A pretty good excuse.
Three others – former school board president Michael Bennett, Jorge Torres and Coleen Shipbaugh – were absent without notifying anyone in advance.
For that trio, unfortunately for the people within District 103 who pay taxes to make sure they have functioning schools, it’s not an unusual occurrence.
Shipbaugh has been AWOL since June and has been a no-show to 75 percent of school board meetings held this year. Torres has missed more than a third of the meetings, while Bennett has missed almost a quarter of the meetings.
Prior to the Nov. 12 meeting, both Torres and Bennett refused to take part in the closed session portion of the board meeting, and Bennett not only left the board table to grandstand at the public podium regarding the appointment of a teacher he voted to hire, he spent the remainder of the meeting in the back of the room.
Let’s be clear here. The District 103 school board’s problems didn’t start with the election of this trio of recalcitrant school board members. What helped elect them in the first place was dysfunctionality. Stipulated: members of the District 103 school board are not perfect.
However, no District 103 board in the past 15 years has simply refused to do the job it was elected to do.
And by frequently refusing to do their jobs as school board members, that’s exactly what’s happening.
If any of these board members, who frequently fail to show up, run for re-election in 2019, voters should keep this track record in mind.
No, it’s not enjoyable to be in a governing minority. But that doesn’t mean you take your ball and go home. That’s a dereliction of duty. The people of Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 deserve better.