Geneva School Board members continued their relative silence, but Geneva TaxFACTS members weren't the only voices at Monday night's School Board meeting.
For the past several months, the public-comment portions of board meetings frequently have been dominated by questions or criticism from members of the Geneva TaxFACTS citizens group or others concerned about school spending and the so-called "Enrollmentgate" issue.
The man-bites-dog aspect of Monday's meeting were the unusual number of pro-board, anti-TaxFACTS comments.
Debbie Hanson told the board she asked to be removed from TaxFACTS' e-mail list, in part because there is too much of an "us" and "them" attitude or mindset.
Hanson said she has no problem with criticism and scrutiny of the School Board, but "it should not be a witch hunt ... but rather about problem-solving."
Hanson said she is a School District employee in the category of "support staff."
"I bring home less every year," she said. "Is TaxFACTS aware of this? (The salaries of) everyone but the teachers have been frozen. We have been cutting for five years. (Yet,) what I listen to in the meetings and read in the newspapers is that nothing has been done to reduce expenses.
"There is no 'Them,' " she added. "Once we get past that, maybe we can start doing some good."
John Rice said he and his family did not move to Geneva for the shops on Third Street but for the quality of the School District. "You guys have taken some pretty hard hits in the past few weeks," he said. "But we're lucky to have a board as qualified as you guys."
"If you start trying to take these draconian cuts, you’re not going to make up that money by charging more at football games … you’re going to have to cut programs. I’m not looking for comments, (but) I did want to step up because I think it’s important members of the community speak their minds."
Kate Bochte talked about a friend who is a teacher.
"She feels beaten up—not by the board but by critics of the board," she said, adding that the result could be that the best teachers will choose to leave Geneva. "We cannot afford to lose good teachers like this, and they do not deserve to be beaten up by these critics any more than the School District and support staff need to be beaten up by critics."
Ron Stevenson suggested that the board consider changing its meeting structure to be a little more like that of the Geneva City Council, where aldermen debate issues and the public is invited to express opinions in open discussion prior to a vote.
The School Board invites public comments in an early part of the meeting and again later in the meeting, often after action has been taken. Public comments are limited to five minutes.
"(City Council members) consider the input before they make a final decision," he said. "People feel like they have a chance to be heard. Here, we don’t feel we have a chance to be heard."