Last night I attended what was the last School Board meeting for some, and first for other newly elected members of the board. The community seems very hopeful for what will come due to the swearing-in of the much admired Laura Berry, Michael Carroll, Sandy Kulak and Mike Maratea.
Many statements were made last night, but the one that really stood out for many was a statement made by outgoing member, Lynne Donegan. I thought it would be nice to share for those of you who may have not been present:
As I sat down to put some thoughts on paper, it was hard to not get emotional. I reflected back to five years ago—- before the school board— WHERE was I? WHO was I? Well, I was a mom, volunteer, PFE member, and I was an advocate and lobbyist working on legislation for the implementation of AEDs in indoor and outdoor facilities.
I worked hard, was committed and focused; I showed up prepared~ when I was speaking or presenting, and I did my duties to the best of my ability. I always kept a poker face, while never revealing “my hand”, in true south side fashion. I asked nothing in return because I was driven and enjoyed what I was doing.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED, someone stepped into my over scheduled, but manageable life and said, “Hey Lynne, how about running for school board?—you are already so invested in the students, you have this innate ability to bring people together, and when you speak people listen (so I was told). So I “threw my hat into the ring.”
As I look back, I learned a lot and what I can tell you is that “GREAT” isn’t a word I would use to describe my experience over the past four years. My work ethic, and values did not change but my “one person CAN make a difference,” beliefs were severely shaken.
One of the biggest things I learned is that whether I am part of the minority, or the majority, the board is 7 people serving together… as one board. I am disappointed that as ONE board, we accomplished very little, and actually caused much disruption. I was bullied, and could state reasons for removing myself from vulgar name-calling, ultimatums, and unacceptable behavior in closed sessions, but the public knows, yes you know—as you’ve witnessed some of it for yourselves, in open session as well. I could sit here, and try to explain the volatility and stress, but I am choosing to forgive, heal, put it behind me, and move forward.
Even though I came prepared for meetings, did my homework, and voted my conscience, I am frustrated that I was not able to come up with a solution to make our board “rise to the occasion.” The reality is… we were a dysfunctional board, and from the bottom of my heart, I apologize to those individuals who were caught in the crossfire, especially and most important of all…our children.
Moving forward for me actually means GOING BACK….BACK to enjoying Monday nights again, BACK to my favorite roles: as a mom, volunteer, PFE member, and I continue to honor my niece Colleen O’Sullivan by my advocacy work with AEDs, oh, and I also have a full-time job, so don’t worry I won’t be bored!
TODAY IS A NEW DAY—I would like to wish the newly elected school board members the very best. I no longer have to wonder what could be, because it now CAN BE! Please keep in mind that PROBLEMS are mistakes we CHOOSE to ignore.
And I leave you with a quote that sums up my four years on the board, and hopefully it will inspire the new board:
Marcus Aurelius (last of the Five Good Emperors of the Roman Emperor) said, “If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.”
Words to live by. Thank you to Lynne and Mary Bragg for their tireless efforts to do what was best for the kids. From one parent to another, your hard work and attempt to do what was right did NOT go unnoticed and is greatly appreciated. You may not have had the majority vote at that table, but you have the majority appreciation of this grateful community.
See you around town!