As president of the teachers union, I find myself in the somewhat surprising position of suggesting if not outright support then at least consideration of Bill Burnett for Oak Harbor School Board.
Not that Bill is any great friend to teachers or their views. In fact, if Burnett got elected, we’d probably be at odds with him quite often. His signature campaign issue of running a second M and O levy to raise public funds to distribute to struggling students and their families for private tutoring is a non-starter, dead-on-arrival idea. But at least it’s an idea. And that’s where Burnett’s advantages might outweigh his disadvantages. He’s interested in public education, spends time researching, formulates and advances opinions, has served on district committees, and has a child in public schools. He’s a frequent letter-writer, espousing all sorts of views frequently wrong, even aggravating in my opinion. Like perennial gadfly Scott Hornung, Burnett has the audacity and temerity to believe that citizens ought to be able to ask questions of district officials and current board members and have those questions answered, especially where the public’s money is at issue.
And in the Oak Harbor School District lately, the public’s money has ever so been at issue: A sudden $3.9 million deficit in operating expenses this year, a hasty closure of Clover Valley Elementary School, and a stadium with an eventual price tag now nearing $11 million (if you include playing fields that will be built later). Maybe it’s time for someone to serve on the school board who, like Hornung, endeavors to hold the school district accountable, even if it’s in a brazen and sometimes misguided way.
Peter Szalai, president
Oak Harbor Education Association