I have spent the better part of six years working tirelessly to ensure that our school district is responsibly managed. I have actively participated on multiple committees including the CSA Search Committee to identify a new superintendent and have dealt with the preparation all of the budgets for the past six years via my ongoing service on the Finance Committee. That said, however, of all the things that I have volunteered to do, the most important from my point of view has been my participation on the . Ensuring that the teachers are compensated fairly and treated respectfully is critical to ensuring that the district runs smoothly and that our children are nurtured appropriately. Somehow this simple concept seems to have been forgotten. Never did I believe that I would have to spend so much time defending the teachers to an increasing hostile public. Not a day goes by in which some negative remark is not made about the teachers and their salaries. While the role of a Board member is to represent the public, the Board member must always remain fair, objective, and sensitive to both sides of all issues.
A barrage of inappropriate personal character attacks was launched earlier this week at the public meeting and online by a small but highly vocal group of township residents. These attacks were wrong and their anger was misdirected. The fact remains (and they know it) that I have always maintained complete and total objectivity. All decisions I make are carefully considered and the pros and cons fully weighed. Nevertheless, some members of the public (or more accurately, some members of the public in attendance at this week's School Board meeting) seemingly believe that a desire to not abandon the collective bargaining talks at this critical time represents a conflict of interest. Frankly, I disagree with that assessment. These individuals either do not understand the importance personal relationships and trust plays in the collective bargaining process or simply chose to ignore it. Likewise, these individuals fail to acknowledge that the reason that the negotiations process has occurred over a prolonged period of time is because their elected representatives have been doing exactly what they were elected to do - represent them!
Admittedly, in a cooler moment, some of the individuals who made the accusations subsequently reconsidered their comments as set forth in private communications. Unfortunately, the news tends to focus on the event and not the reassessment. This is tragic because these public mischaracterizations are not only malicious but have long-lasting implications. Anyone who watches these meetings would have to wonder why any sane individual would want to serve as a Board member. I ask myself that question on a daily basis, especially when I find myself being wrongly accused of inappropriate decision-making. It is no wonder that school board elections are often uncontested.
Mark Jay Zucker, MD, JD