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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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February 1, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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February 1, 2012
 

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r Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter lOB Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 EDITORIAL A iN I.) OPINION EDITORIAL School board should ditch absurd agenda Every month an event of monstrous proportions takes place in Plumas County. It requires epic for- titude. It bruises the body, numbs the mind and crushes the soul. Participants dread it. It takes days, even weeks to recover. We are, of course, talking about the School Board Meeting. The agenda can stretch to four or five pages. The packet is so large you could club a small ani- mal to death with it. The meeting can plod on for five or six hours. At some point during December's interminable exercise it hit us why the agenda is so unwieldy: the district segregates information, discussion and action items. So an item might appear several times on the agenda -- once when the board dis- cusses it and again when the board votes on the matter. Instead of grouping related items, the dis- trict sprinkles them throughout. On the December agenda, various items related to school closures appeared in three or four different places. The net result is to discourage public participa- tion. A member of the public who wants to hear not just the board's deliberations on an item but also its decision must abide for hours. It can take a couple of hours just toget to a discussion item, since the district does information items first (many boards save those reports for the end). Af- ter the discussion, a person may have to sit for an- other hour, even two, before the board gets around to a vote. At the December meeting, board members them- selves lost track of what they were doing when. Discussion seemed to be leading in one direction but members had to pull up short and not take any action. By the time they got back around to the topic, they had lost the thread of conversation. At the January meeting, not one citizen spoke during the public hearing about the possible con- solidation of Pioneer and Quincy elementary schools. Who could fault the board if members as- sumed people just weren't interested? But that's not the case: more than 100 people turned up for the Quincy 7-11 committee's first public forum last week. Could it be that no one spoke at the board's public hearing because the meeting was 90 min- utes behind schedule by that point? Because themeetmgs are sO tong,'iittle things get lost,]lk th@dVettttit 0tlatt6ff letter t , board wanted to go out in January. In December ', the board asked the district to bring a draft to the January meeting. Guess what wasn't on January's agenda? The district did eventually post a letter from the superintendent on its website, but it's unclear if this was what the board had in mind. Why on earth would the district take this ap- proach to organizing its agenda? The district be- lieves, erroneously, that the Brown Act requires it. Really? ff the district's interpretation is correct, then every major board in Plumas County is vio- lating the Brown Act and has been for years. We checked in with a number of attorneys, all of who agreed the Brown Act in no way requires that. Most boards group similar items and identify them for discussion and possible action. We looked at agendas from numerous other school districts -- not one takes PUSD's approach. The district's model is particularly insidious be- cause under the guise of bending over backwards to follow the Brown Act, it is really subverting the See Editorial, page 12B Fea00ing /00spaper , Breaking News .... go to plumasnews.com Michael C. Taborski ............. Publisher Keri B. Taborski ...Legal Advertising Dept. 'Delaine Fragnoli ........ Managing Editor Alicia Knadler ........ Indian Valley Editor M. Kate West .............. Chester Editor Shannon Morrow .......... Sports Editor Ingrid Burke ................ Copy Editor Staff writers: Michael Condon Ruth Ellis Will Farris Barbara France Mona Hill Susan Cort Johnson Diana Jorgenson Feather River Bulletin (530) 283-0800 Lassen County Times (530) 257-53211 Portola Reporter (530) 832-4646 Dan McDonald Brian Taylor Kayleen Taylor Theresa Humphrey Sam Williams Jason Theobald Westwood PinePress (530) 256-2277 Chester Progressive (530) 258-3115 Indian Valley Record (530) 284-7800 Sch,00ol closures are no surprise MY TURN nor the waters run. At the time, Indian Valley residents charged Harris with gutting Greenville High School programs to further diminish enrollment and bring about closure. Harris responded that he was merely socking away money against some future rainy day; that we had to think about all of the district's students, not just Indian Val- ley's. So, while there were fewer classes of- ........................................................ MONA'"Hi'LI- ......................................................... fered at PUSD schools, he built the reserve Staff Writer mhill@plumasnews.com I have had the dubious privilege of watching school superintendent Glenn Harris operate for the last several years, not just as a reporter, but also as a parent, grandmother and representative of Plumas Charter School. The current situation comes as no surprise to me, he has been telegraphing his moves since late 2009. Plumas Unified School District has real problems based on declining enrollment and a statewide budget crisis. The district serves four population cen- ters- Chester-Lake Almanor, Indian Val- ley, Quincy and Portola -- separated by more than 20 miles of often-treacherous winter driving. PUSD facilities date back to timber's heyday, when multiple mills operated vir- tually nonstop in every community. The district also received property taxes on forest holdings until the Great White Fathers in Washington, D.C., offered feder- al money in exchange for tax relief. Like the treaties of old, they are in the process of defaulting on their promises. Apparently, the grass no longer grows, to about 40 percent. In the meantime, I took the district's budget report to someone with K12 budget experience. That person is not now and never was a resident of Plumas County nor a school district or office of education em- ployee --just someone I know with K12 budget experience. I wrote a story in March 2010 based on that expert's opinion: The district prac- tices "cry wolf" budgeting. District offi- cials inflate expense estimates to deliver a bleak forecast. Then, they sock away the unspent funds to build the reserves. All perfectly legal, just not particularly moral. With the deft dexterity of a magician and the earnest demeanor of a con man, dis- trict officials have offered soothing words while moving the goal posts: We need to build a bigger reserve; distance/online learning will solve these problems; basic aid might go away ... However for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the agenda has been clear from the start: downsize the district. We lulled ourselves into believing denials such as these: "(School board chairman Brad) Baker said there were rumors flying around the communitY that he likened to the perenni- al rumors of a McDonald's franchise open- ing in Quincy. "'There is no talk of Greenville High School (closing); there is no conspiracy. There is no talk of closing Greenville Ele- mentary School; there is no intent not to support Greenville,' Baker added." And: "'I will tell you this right now,' Harris began. 'We have not had any conversation about closing Greenville, Portola, Quincy or Chester -- not one.'" Feather Publish- ing, Feb. 17, 2011 editions. All the same, here we are: talking about closing schools even before the 7-11 com- mittees have reported to the board. It was where we were going all along: up the gar- den path. Since he has been superintendent, Har- ris has systematically restricted commu- nity access to our schoolS, whether through eliminating sections or barring use to extracurricular community pro- grams such as Footloose Studio of the Arts, the High Sierra Community Youth Orchestra or the Central Plumas parks and rec district. Actions speak louder than words and Harris' actions over the past few years have been screaming school closures. It just took him a bit to line up his ducks. Whether or not Harris understands, our schools and our children are the heart of our community. Close them and you kill the community. Make a point to contact every member of the school board; attend every district meeting; speak loudly, in words of one syl- lable: "Do not close our schools!" When in the World? Kathy Raymond and Joni Reilley float on Bucks Lake Jan. 13, along with companions Maggie (under the seat) and Harley. This is a historically significant photo, given that Bucks Lake is usually frozen over at this time of year and there are ypically Qeral  '= feet of snow on thiiJbenks. Tim ReiUey, of Portola, snapped the photo. Next time you travel, share where you went by taking your local newspaper along and including it in a photo. Then email the photo to smorow@plumas news.com. Include your name, contact information and brief details about your photo. We may publish it as space permits. I:EMEMBE1K WHEN KERI TABORSKI Historian 75 YEARS AGO ........... 1937 The Feather River Highway has re- mained open as heavy storms gripped the entire state of California. In the first month of 1937 (January), there were 16 deaths and 15 births recorded in Plumas County. 50 YEARS AGO ............ 1962 A Plumas County display booth has been set up at the San Francisco Sports and Boat Show by the Plumas County Chamber of Corn- merce to advertise the wonders of Plumas County to potential tourists and vacationers. 25 YEARS AGO ......... 1987 Plumas County Sheriffs deputies closed the Portola animal shelter citing poor con- ditions which violated the State penal code. Subsequently, Portola animal control offi- cer Gary Jordan was fired Saturday, his termination was due to his negligence in operations there. 10 YEARS AGO ......... 2002 The new Plumas District Hospital administrator Richard Hathaway presided over his first board meeting this week. Extreme icy road and highway condi- tions throughout Plumas County are tak- ing its toll on drivers. Note." items included in the weekly Remember When column are taken from our bound newspa- per archives and represent writing styles of that particular period. The spelling and grammar are not edited, so the copy is presented as it actually appeared in the original newspaper. Wh), Ron Paul appeals to youth ii !i/i!ii, MY TURN KATIE STEGAEL Senior, Chester High School Now that the Republican candidates are down two people, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry, the stakes, are even higher. Among the four remaining candidates, the question buzzing about is what excites college age youth to support Texas Con- gressman Ron Paul? When asked this question at the Myrtle Beach debate by Fox News political corre- spondent Bret Baier, Paul smiled and said, "I'm an old man with young ideas." Is this true? In my opinion, of all the can- didates running in the primaries, Con- gressman Pa definitely has gained the voice of the younger voters. I believe one of the biggest reasons for this support is his idea on getting the gov- ernment out of our school systems. Paul says the responsibility for schools and academic achievement should be returned to the state level where the focus can re- turn to quality education and not test scores. Congressman Paul also believes that in- dividual liberties are key essentials to run- ning this nation correctly. His plan to re- store America consists of lowering federal government spending and tax reform. His goals of lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and ending taxes on personal savings appeal to young people who are just starting out in life. Since I am a young person who will be liv- ing on my own soon, some of Congressman Paul's reform ideas do sound desirable. I believe Ron Paul has some very great ideas to get America back to the thriving country it once was. His ideas inspire me and many other young adults to follow him in his campaign because independence is what every young person strives for whether it be from par- ents, from school or other restraints in our lives. Congressman Paul strongly believes in restoring the independence and personal liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution to every aspect of our lives. The dictionary defines personal liberty as the liberty of an individual to do his or her will freely except for those restraints imposed by law to safeguard the physical, moral, political and economic welfare of others. That Congressman Paul wants to lift those excessive restraints placed on Amer- icans by the government is what makes young adults very interested in his plat- form. In a speech to the House of Representa- tives Congressman Paul said, "We have de- pended on government for so much for so long that we as people have become less vigilant of our liberties." The youth of America are very interest- ed in what their liberties are and how they can use them. Congressman Paul has based his entire platform on personal liber- ties and this is what captures the attention of young audiences. I think Congressman Paul has some great points on how to get America out of the recession that it has fallen into, while preserving independence and personal lib- erties. He holds true to the ideals on which our founding fathers based the Constitution. While the centuries old document may seem out-of-date to many, it is an inspira- tion to the youth of our time. Stegall has been working with the Chester Progressive for her senior project. |