As a teacher and parent in the Hesperia Unified School District, I am concerned about the actions & inactions of two of our school board members, Anthony Riley and Hardy Black. It was very apparent at the board meeting on March 7 that the two have an agenda, are on the same page, and are not here to serve the employees, students, parents or the community that are serviced by this district. Let me refresh your memory.
At the Feb. 14 meeting when they should have already had been working on a list of budgetary items to discuss and take action on to prepare for the potential budgetary fall-out we are again facing, the two in question were too worried about discussing a list of speakers for giving an invocation at the beginning of the board meetings (15 minutes), how the furniture should be arranged at the meetings for the board and cabinet (20 minutes, and a motion had to be made to decide this), and questioning the motives for looking at the school police program that currently costs the district $1 million (I applaud Chief Graham for working with the district since that time in looking at ways to restructure and cut back without having to eliminate the program). For Anthony Riley to accuse Chris Bentley of having a political agenda for wanting to look into the financial efficiency of the school police force goes way beyond the pot calling the kettle black. Was it not Anthony Riley, who without ties to this district, got elected to our school board as a stepping stone for his own advancement into the state political arena?
At the Feb. 17 budget workshop meeting that was scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., but went until 10:30 p.m. due to the overwhelming outcry not to cut the Canyon Ridge Alternative Education program. Mr. Riley was absent, and Mr. Black didn't offer any ideas or contribute to the discussion of what we can and need to do to cut back and balance our budget. The reality is no one wants their program to be eliminated, but we are at a point in time where we have to ask what is necessary, what is not, and where can we tighten things up.
At the March 7 meeting, I was very frustrated at the two board members who apparently had much to say to each other during the meeting but refused to contribute to any of the discussions or clarify why they dissented on many of the action items on the agenda. Yet neither board member was willing to offer any alternatives other than what has been proposed by the district as ways to cut back and balance the budget for the next two years. Then they had the gall to place on the agenda for the next meeting (March 27) a request to hear a 30 minute presentation by Mr. Spencer's Anti-Bullying organization (isn't this a conflict of interest?), again pushing forth their own personal agenda of attacking Mr. Bentley, after being the ones that nominated him to be the current board president. Bullying can be passive as well as aggressive. What motivation was behind that strategic move? We are in a budget crisis… again. We do not have time to waste at public meetings not addressing critical issues. We do not need to look at programs that will add to the financial dilemma we still face.
It is time for our elected board members to put aside personal likes and dislikes, get rid of personal agendas, and start doing what they were elected to do. Mr. Riley and Mr. Black, you had no problem voting as a 3-2 block disregarding input from the community, employees, other board members and district staff, implementing positions, programs, and facilities that we cannot financially sustain. Now after creating part of the problems we face, you need to become an active part of the solution. The decisions facing this current school board are not pleasant, trust me we get it. However, if the two of you are not up for the office to which you were elected, then you need to do the right thing and step down and get out of the way. (You don't have to take my word for it, watch the meetings on line for yourself.)