Seventh seat needs occupant

Published 8:06 am Thursday, August 12, 2010

Editorial, Austin Daily Herald

Austin School Board members should demonstrate their leadership and cooperation skills by identifying and seating a board member to fill its currently vacant seat.

Personnel committee members discussed the vacancy this week but, citing more pressing business, decided to let the matter rest until after the start of school. That decision might make sense if it had not already been five months since the seat became vacant. The board has had plenty of time to resolve the matter but does not, as far as the public can tell, even have a plan for moving forward.

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While the vacant seat is by no means a crisis, the district is supposed to be governed and led by a seven-person board, that number having been deemed adequate representation for the people of Austin. Having voted one of its members out of office, the board needs to finish its work and fill the vacant seat. It’s all well and good to imply, as some board members have done, that the seventh position isn’t particularly important. But the reality is, fewer board members is depriving Austin residents of representation.

Filling the vacancy is made difficult by the board’s internal politics. Members just can’t agree on a candidate and, apparently, aren’t willing to tackle the difficult work of identifying someone acceptable to all or of finding some other compromise. That’s unfortunate, because that’s just the kind of leadership board members were elected to provide.

In delaying, once again, the board has put off doing its job. By September, it will have put off a decision for six months. That will have been long enough. It’s time to move forward.