February 6, 2013

After hedging, board agreed to allow Coleman’s panel in


ONUMBA.COM –After months of grappling with an immensely embarrassing probe involving student attendance record skullduggery, which is still playing out, it would be safe to assume that members of the Columbus Board of Education and school district officials are now busy cleaning up the mess from this massive catastrophe by installing adequate measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

But there’s no assuming what role Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman is playing as part of his effort to help improve the district. Recently, he and City Council President Andrew Ginther formed a panel of 25 members to recommend ways to do that. It is called Columbus Education Commission (CEC).

To be sure, it wasn’t clear at first just how both independently concieved orbs, that is, the districts internal housecleaning efforts and Coleman’s moves, would coalesce or at the very least work in choriamb in pursuit of a common mission. That lack of clarity in large part played into why the Call & Post published a recent story titled, ‘Future of Columbus School District, who is in charge of shaping it unclear.’

Even with recent expressions of desire to work together on this, it’s still largely unclear just how the labyrinths of this herculean and multilayered mess will be resolved in the end. The good news however is that both sides, clearly frosty about each other, have at least expressed commitment to coexist in favor of advancing a common agenda. But that dovetailing spirit only came after somewhat a corrosive start, a brief hedging on the part of the Columbus Board of Education that easily underscored the undercurrent feelings of turf tiff among some involved in the matter. The board, after stiffening its resolve not to allow Coleman’s panel members to conduct a management review of the district operation, eventually agreed to invite them in, even deciding to abandon its initial demand requiring the group to submit its request in writing.

Seemingly, both sides, after a well-managed acrimonious posturing possibly rooted in distrust as well, have agreed to work out a plan for proceeding with the management review.

Eric Fingerhut, the commission’s executive director, in a letter to the school board, called for both sides to assign individuals who would meet to discuss the way forward in terms of the “scope and timeline for the review.”

Fingerhut’s plan was approved by the school board. President Carol Perkins is the board’s representative who would meet with Mary Jo Hudson representing the panel.

For all involved in these efforts, it is probably refreshing and encouraging to see a once caviling and battleax Perkins involved at any level of collaboration with the mayor’s panel. Weeks ago, she wasn’t optimistic about any of this, even going as far as almost declaring the Sultanhood of the board concerning matters of education in the district.

“They’re fast-tracking with possible conclusions,” said Perkins at a recent board meeting, declaring, “Bottom line, whatever comes down, this board will make the final decision.”

That was her daggers-drawn feelings at that time.  But recently, she offered a more conciliatory tone.

“Now, I imagine, as we get further, if there’s some points that come up, I’m sure we can work it out, said Perkins, who also noted, “We have no objections to this, and again, this could be information that could be meaningful to the next superintendent.”

The current superintendent, who along with Perkins, presided over this whole mess, will retire at the end of the year. While Harris is on the verge of departure, Perkins on the other hand is staying as board leader after she received a vote of 6 to 1 to continue serving as president.

But Harris will hang around long enough to see and possibly react to the recommendations of CEC due in April, according to Fingerhut, who also noted that the panel would offer proposals for revamping the district’s practices.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com / Copyright 2013 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).


Ike Mgbatogu

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus, Ohio. He can be reached by email at Onumbamedia@yahoo.com.

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