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Communication key for leaders

Two-way communication can go a long way toward solving many problems in life. And that certainly holds true when it comes to how our elected officials and public servants lead.

A little communication could have resolved a dispute amongst members of the Chesapeake Board of Education without it becoming the spectacle that it was. Communication was also stifled at the meeting because the board decided that teachers wanting to speak wouldn’t get the opportunity during the public comment portion of the meeting simply because the discussion had gone on too long.

The entire debate stemmed from a clause in superintendent Scott Howard’s new contract set to begin in August that stipulated he would get a ridiculous 90 days vacation each year that could be cashed out yearly. Board president Jerry Osborne brought the issue to public attention several days before the meeting and had the community buzzing.

Osborne was absolutely justified in bringing this issue up for discussion and seeking a correction. This clause was included in the final contract that was signed by Howard, the school treasurer and then-president Mike Dyer and could have been considered legally binding.

But Osborne erred by not simply asking those involved or researching the original agreement. If he would have done that he would have learned that it was a typographical error that simply wasn’t caught during the translation of the terms of the agreement to the actual contract.

Howard has willingly agreed to a contract change to get this corrected but the way this transpired shows a division in the school district that must be overcome.

The entire issue could have been diffused with a few phone calls.

Instead, the public was essentially incited to come to a meeting to talk about something that was a non-issue. Then, to compound matters, some were essentially silenced because they didn’t speak during the allotted time. These and other issues show there seems to be a clear divide on the board.

Talking openly is a positive thing so the focus will remain the education of the students in the Chesapeake district.