Why So Few People Are Speaking Publicly at New Rochelle School Board Meetings

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Why So Few People Are Speaking Publicly at New Rochelle School Board Meetings

March 19, 2014 - 17:43

I have been a fairly regular attendee at school board meetings ever since I became aware of the problems in regards to recycling and waste management in the schools.

I realized that democracy is a participation sport and that board members cannot be asked to know and control everything that is going on in our 250 million dollar school enterprise.

School board members know only what they are being presented with, and only very few question that information publicly. Also, to be fair, these numbers and cost centers are just too huge to really wrap your head around, by just being presented with them.

And even fewer citizens question the information that is being presented.

As a matter of fact it is usually less then a handful of actively engaged citizens at these meetings.


Twice a year all of us write a huge check to the district. And that number is going up another 2%.

It may be the lowest increase in years, but it is an INCREASE afterall.

I applaud Jeffrey Hastie and Chrisanne Petrone on insisting to do an inventory.

I applaud Dee Polow on checking on the overtime for Custodians question. I personally did not get a satisfactory answer from what Mr Quinn replied.

According to the budget we are anticipating $675,000 in overtime for just Maintenance Mechanics, and Custodial Staff, that is 83 positions.
That is an average of $8132 per position of just overtime. That comes out to each person working around 232 hrs of overtime, 6 full weeks?

Is that reasonable? I just cannot fathom it.

So, why do so few people speak up during meetings?

It takes courage to stand at that microphone.

It takes time to research things and to get involved.

It takes time away from home for many evenings

One is considered a "trouble maker" because one "rocks the boat"

One always runs the risk to be interrupted by the buzzer and then -like a child- not be allowed to finish one's statement.

I totally understand why so few people actively participate in democracy, it is hard work.

However, it is our duty as citizens to make sure that our public money is spent wisely. The Board is suppose to be doing what the community wants, let's make our voices be heard.