Get answers at board meeting

To the Times of Ti:

Shortly before the November meeting of the Schroon Lake Central School board of education, I became aware of an essay circulating in local coffee shops. It was not a letter, because it had no salutation or signature, but it made statements and asked questions which seemed to be directed to the citizens of Schroon Lake and Ticonderoga. The subject was a recently inked shared services agreement for Ticonderoga to provide one full-time equivalent employee to meet Schroon Lake’s internet technology needs for the sum of $98,533 per year.

Some of the questions raised involved:

— When the need and desire to enter into an agreement was discussed in open session at each district?

— Was the hire of Mr. Thomas Finnerty by Ticonderoga at a salary of $65,000 needed since the budget cuts proposed in March and April cut a 10 month IT?

— The time-line of events leading to this contract?

— What options were explored to fulfil this need?

— Was this position advertised or offered in-house?

— Who negotiated this contract?

— Was this legal under the Open Meetings Law?

The final statement of the essay, “It is an interesting side note that Thomas Finnerty is the husband of the Schroon Lake Central School’s superintendent,” is obviously intended to inflame people with questions of nepotism, conflicts of interest and improprieties.

Being a former school board member, I wanted to write a letter to the editor stating that the local coffee shop is not the best place to get information. For the system of representative government that we all cherish to work requires citizen inquiry and input. Board meetings are the proper place to ask questions, air concerns, and express your pleasure or displeasure with issues.

Unfortunately there was insufficient time to get a letter in before the meeting. I attended the November meeting and felt dumbfounded when the board president stifled open discussion of the issues arising regarding this contract because of issues of time. I understand limiting the time per speaker, but not per subject, as was done. The board must remember that not only must they avoid conflicts of interest and improprieties, but just as importantly, the appearance thereof.

In closing, I would hope that people with questions or concerns about these or other issues attend board meetings to get answers there, instead of at local coffee shops.

I would also hope that boards would respond to these questions and concerns with open, honest and forthright answers.

The next Schroon Lake board of education meeting is Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

Bruce Murdock, Schroon Lake

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