It ain't the polls, but you've still got a voice
Monday was the first time I've seen chairs pulled in from another room during a Spirit Lake School Board meeting — and I don't think the crowd was there to check on the latest enrollment numbers.
The topic of school safety as it relates to potentially arming select staff members at Spirit Lake seems to gain more and more visitors each time it's on the board's agenda (and of course I say potentially arming, because the board hasn't actually authorized anyone to start carrying a gun yet). And people on both sides of the issue have strong feelings.
Yet what surprises me is that, of all the people who have attended the board meetings during the last few months, so far only four of them have chosen to address the board members directly — and they happened to be evenly split on the issue. And I say it's strange to have only four because I've had the pleasure of sitting through literally hours of public comment when people had opinions about area developments that sought county approval — hours, in multiple instances.
And whether we're talking about the county board of adjustment or the Spirit Lake School Board, it's not the public who is tasked with making the final decision. It's not Election Day all over again, where the public's most popular opinion carries the day. Rather, there's a small group of people specifically tasked with making some tough calls on behalf of our community, using the information available to them.
And that's my point.
The school district is asking for our feedback on the proposed policy, not just from parents but from anyone who has a stake in this. It might not be the same kind of civic duty we have in mind when we head to the polls, but I'd argue it's equally important if not more so to make one's voice heard at the local level. And with so many people evidently taking a recent interest in the safety policies at Spirit Lake Schools, I felt I should reiterate how best to let one's voice be heard (it's in the actual news article I wrote this week, but with reader preferences and social media algorithms being what they are, there may be a better chance of reaching some folks if I put it in an opinion column too).
So, if you're a parent of a student at Spirit Lake, you should have been emailed the latest draft of the proposed safety plan around 3 p.m. Monday. It covers a lot — fires, tornadoes, suspicious packages, you name it. So read it, because school officials pointed out that sometimes a concern in one area helps address a concern in another one. If you didn't get an email, it's also on the district's website — start by opening the About Us section and clicking Human Resources, where you'll find the safety plan under the documents heading (or you can just click here, this is the online version of the paper after all)>
If you're tech savvy, there's a link on the first page of the plan which will open a form where you can give your feedback — they say it takes just a couple minutes to complete. If you've got more to say, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you're not so tech savvy, you can call the school at 336-2820 and dial extension 1921 to let them know what you think or you can set up a time to share your thoughts in person.
And that's all got to be done by the end of the day on Nov. 21, so school officials can digest everything ahead of their planned meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 28.
Now, just because we in the public make a suggestion doesn't mean that's the way it'll be in the end — I mean, c'mon, this is the same community that submitted write-in votes for Mickey Mouse and Peewee Herman (it's 2022, and some county officials think Elvis seems to be losing his generational pull at the polls). But what's important is that we let the school board know what it is we honestly think.
If our community elected these five people to serve the interests of the Spirit Lake School District, the least we can do is give them our two-cents on an important topic when they ask for it.