The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Board of Ed reorganization

Yes, they really are that far away...

... and yes, it really was this dim as David Rutherford took the oath of office.
Starting a little late because of lack of a quorum at 7:00 PM, Plainfield's Board of Ed reorganized for 2015 Tuesday evening at the PHS Auditorium.

Newly-elected Board of Ed members Terrence Bellamy, Carletta Jeffers and David Rutherford were sworn in by interim board secretary Yolanda Henry. After being seated, they joined the remaining board members in unanimously electing Wilma Campbell president and Keisha Edwads vice president for 2015.

Both President Campbell and Vice President Edwards spoke at length of the impact of former BOE member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq, who passed away last week, and a moment of silence was kept in his memory.

Following a few welcome words from members of the audience, the board adjourned into executive session. The first business meeting of 2015 will be January 20, 8:00 PM, at the PHS Auditorium.

The PHS Auditorium is a wonderful space, reminding me of the clean, elegant lines of both the UN General Assembly and the Lincoln Center complex. They are all of an era.

But the auditorium has got to be the most public-unfriendly meeting venue in the entire city of Plainfield.

It is cavernous, seating 1,300, and the handful of attendees at BOE meetings are like billiard balls scattered on an immense field. (It would be different if there were several hundred in attendance -- a most unlikely scenario.)

The lighting is atrocious for the purpose of a public meeting, with the room in very low light and the board lined up under stark overhead lighting like the justices at the Nuremberg trials.

The unfriendliness is further emphasized by the great distance -- twenty or thirty feet -- between the board and the front row (and most folks sit even further back than that).

Contrasting the BOE venue with the Council chambers, the whole BOE arrangement sends a strong unconscious message of us-vs.-them.

How much better when the meetings were conducted in the PHS Library (or 'media center', if you must). I would gladly stump up the flight of stairs for the much more public-friendly setting.

Maybe, just maybe?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dan, once upon a time (could it be 20 plus years ago?) the BOE met in a meeting room on the first floor accessed from the Stelle Avenue parking lot. It was the right size and an inviting venue. Is that room still available? But issues like media recording and security may factor into BOE venue selection as well.

Jessica Ramirez said...

I wish the new Plainfield Board of Education members well, really, but who the heck do they think they are?

What a surprise, too, Campbell gets another year as president. I guess that’s what the all mighty dollar will buy you. Must be nice to be so “comfortable.”

I agree with you, Dan. I had a friend who was there and said they felt so distant from the governing body. They were not welcoming at all.

Maybe Campbell can use this term to purchase better lighting. I wonder what they are trying to keep in the dark???

Dan said...

To 8:31 AM -- The room off the Stelle Avenue lot may be the Conference Room, which they do use for their work/study meetings. It is more comfortable, more friendly and certainly better lit, but it isn't big enough if more than a dozen or so of the public show up.

Rocio Serrano said...

How can a school board member claim to care so much about the school system in Plainfield, yet send their kids off to private schools?

I am so appalled that Ms. Campbell continues to be a part of this school board. Our leaders are failing our children with their misguided principles.

Did she forget that in her stump speech?

I wonder what the working parents of Plainfield would think if they knew her son attended Wardlaw-Hartridge, a private school in Edison that costs $40,000 a year to attend. So much for quality education for ALL children.

I don’t think Plainfield needs Campbell’s charity. Maybe she should just volunteer for the tea parties at Wardlaw-Hartridge and leave our school system to people who have an actual stake in the outcome.