Rittenhouse’s report

As I have said in the past, I have not talked as much as I have listened this year, but what I have observed and experienced, has given me a better understanding of how things work. I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know many of the teachers, students and employees of our school system, as well as the parents. Our students are among the best, and show an eagerness and willingness to excel. The teachers I have met and/or spoken with are highly qualified and committed to providing a quality education for our children. Our experienced employees are dedicated and perform their duties efficiently. We have much to be thankful for.
There was an informal debate, held last year, for those of us running for seats on the School Board. In response to a question from a concerned teacher, one School Board member stated, “Don’t you trust us?” There was no response, but a year later, I can answer that question.
All of us should be concerned when our teachers talk about the possibility of being punished and/or ignored if they speak out. Or concerned with the fact that they feel as though they must band together to ask for “risk-free dialogue” in which to communicate their “ideas and expertise.” In addition, there are school employees who have pointed out areas of waste and suggested money saving ideas, but are reluctant to speak out. It should not be this way.
I understand frustration. Recently, I called and requested specific information regarding school expenditures (budget information). I was sent an email stating that because of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) regulations, I was not allowed that information. At the following meeting, I asked how was I supposed to vote on any budget, when I am not allowed access to all the information. I then requested the information again. At the next meeting, I was provided with an incomplete list. I understand there is certain information that cannot, is not, and should not, be discussed in public; however, all information should be available to an elected School Board member, especially when asked for, in order for us to do our jobs effectively for you. It is as simple as checks and balances. It is the reason why we are elected. You should be able to hold us accountable. But it is not always that way.
Consider this my year-end report, and whether I am elected again or not, it is as it should be, up to the people. Thank you for allowing me to serve you. I hope I have been able to earn your trust.

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