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‘Hissy fit’ not becoming of AASD board

The three Altoona Area School Board members who walked out of a meeting on Sept 9 rather than hear a presentation from a representative of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association did not enhance the board’s image.

That should be the conclusion of both the district residents who oppose the current construction and renovation project as well as those who support it.

It is unlikely that there ever has been an elected governmental official or a school director who has approved of every proposal or action that he or she has encountered, but seldom do right-thinking officials display what amounts to a hissy fit and refuse to participate regarding other business or information that comes their way — because they lost on one decision front.

Unfortunately, however, the Altoona board has been operating under an extended period of friction that has been seriously unbecoming what otherwise is a great school district.

Fifty years ago, when the Altoona board of that time was embarking on major school construction and renovations, plenty of opposition existed within the community, but board members handled their disagreements in a mature, respectful way — in a way that neither embarrassed the board nor the district in general.

There might have been difficult committee meetings at times, but animosities were left outside the public meeting door.

The district superintendent at that time, Thomas R. Heslep, once remarked that “it was easy to work hard here,” and that was indicative of the fact that, despite disagreements, board members were able to respect others’ differing opinions — for the district’s overall good.

And, that respectful conduct helped close the window to unruly public conduct that could have surfaced over decisions affecting their tax obligations, going forward.

It’s troubling that, having lost in the approval of the now-underway work, some current board members have refused to give a “yes” vote regarding any of the bills associated with the project.

Again, it’s the hissy-fit mentality, an attitude that should have no place in the board’s meeting room.

Meanwhile, a recent display of hissy fit had an unintended consequence, with the four high school project opponents unknowingly voting against an invoice for a roof repair at Penn Lincoln Elementary School.

Indeed, it might be reasonable to say that the Pennsylvania School Boards Association representative’s presentation should have been delayed until after the local school board reorganizes in December, based on results of the November general election.

It would be a good idea to have a repeat of that presentation on the proper roles of board members and board member teamwork soon after the new board is seated.

None of this is aimed at damning the good intentions of any of the current board’s members. They all have committed themselves to working hard on behalf of district residents; they’re all committed to the well-being of the school district and its students.

But the current board is proof that good intentions have a right way and a wrong way, and the current mood on display in the board room is aligned with the latter.

The current project isn’t going to be halted, no matter who sits on the board, beginning in December, and it is time for hissy fits to go the way of outdated textbooks.

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