Now that we have had a little time to cool off since the Great Two-School Kerfuffle at the West Bend School Board, I am pretty pleased with the whole episode. It was a case of representative government actually working correctly.
To review, here’s what happened… a school board member wanted the board to consider the idea of combining West Bend’s two high schools, which occupy the same building, into one high school. The school board went through a process to inform the public of the pros and cons of combining the schools and gather public input. They held information sessions, allowed public input at a school board meeting, conducted a survey, put information on the web site and snail mail, and invited public input in the form of citizens contacting the school board members.
In the end, despite the indication that several of the school board members had leaned toward combining the schools, they voted unanimously for the status quo of two high schools. Without an overly compelling reason to change the high school configuration and with the lopsided public input in favor of keeping two schools, the school board followed the wishes of the citizens.
Representative government worked.
Despite the fact that I was in favor of combining the high schools, I am happy to see that the school board engaged in a rational decision-making process that worked to enact the wishes of the majority of the citizens who chose to speak up. There are times when the evidence is overwhelming that a government should take an action against the public’s will, but those situations are rare. In this case, there were valid arguments on both sides of the issue and the board went with public opinion.