When the Save Hoover group publicized which school board candidates supported keeping Hoover open, some people told us that we were being naive, that the candidates would just tell us what we wanted to hear and then forget about us after the election. We were especially warned not to trust the west-side candidates, Tuyet Dorau and Chris Lynch; west-siders would never pursue the Hoover issue once elected.
At tonight’s school board work session, two board members pushed for a discussion of the Hoover closure: Tuyet Dorau and Chris Lynch. Dorau said that the board should be concerned that the Hoover closure does not have community buy-in, especially since the district needs public support to pass the necessary bond. She said that the closure will cause families to flee the neighborhood. She recognized that the closure costs a lot of money that could be used for better purposes. Lynch said that the community has made it clear that the board’s rationale for the closure isn’t sufficient. He said that the board should be more concerned with building community buy-in for the bond vote. He suggested putting the closure on hold and moving forward with the rest of the plan.
Brian Kirschling, the third candidate elected this year, was sympathetic to concerns about the process that led to the closure. He told me after the meeting that aspects of the closure did not meet his criteria for acceptable school closures. But he said that he did not think that the December 10 meeting was the right occasion to reconsider the closure, since the issue at that meeting is whether to adopt the phasing plan, not whether to change the master plan itself.
I don’t mean to suggest that Lynch and Dorau are in complete agreement with the Save Hoover group, and I’m not commenting at all on their approach to other issues. And I’m not writing off the possibility that Kirschling could vote to keep Hoover open at some point in the future. All I’m saying is that the new board members acted exactly as you might have predicted from their statements during the campaign. When voters succeed in getting candidates to take positions on specific issues, those statements mean something. Candidates are unlikely to casually toss them aside at the first opportunity, and couldn’t do so without paying a price.
The work session made it clear that a majority of the board—Marla Swesey, Sally Hoelscher, Jeff McGinness, and Patti Fields—is unwilling to reverse the decision to close Hoover. Those board members are the four whose seats come up for election two years from now. Given the outcome of this recent board election, I’m very encouraged about the prospects for change in the next one. Let the 2015 campaign begin!