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Letter: Nobody Attends Board of Education Meetings

Patch reader Robert Foster weighs in on the sparse attendance at recent Board of Education meetings.

*Local and frequent speaker at Board of Education meetings Robert Foster emailed this letter to Patch discussing the lack of community members at the Board of Education meetings.

What if no one was there?

On August 28th I had a very unique experience.   I was the only member of the community at the scheduled school board meeting.  After the meet I realized that if I did not go no one would have been there.  It just struck me that with the thousands of residents in the community only one person was there to hear about the ongoing efforts to both reduce costs and improve the level of services to the students.  In addition, with have a new superintendent, I would think some people would like to see what we are getting for that investment.   

Why did this happen?  Was it the “back to school annual scavenger hunt”.  That is the annual exercise  where every family with students in the school is out in force with their must have lists for opening day running from store to store, or maybe too many of us have decided that our being there makes no difference.   Just last year when there was something causing stress in the community such as a reduction in bus service or the need to close a school the room gets packed.  I guess there is nothing to motivate anyone to come out on a warm summer evening.

There is some good news when the attendance gets that small the meetings get moved to the executive meeting room were the seats are comfortable, the air conditioning works great, there is no need for the old audio system and I see a lot more interaction taking place as members sit around the meeting table instead of being spread out over the front of a large room.  But with all those pluses I would rather see the community coming out hearing what is going on and maybe, if they have something to share, add their thoughts to the discussion.  

– Robert Foster 

Marion Knott September 08, 2012 at 05:37 PM
When I was in PTA many moons ago the only well attended meetings were the Back to School night, sex education curriculum and the possiblity of bussing kids from neighboring districts. I'm sure the BOE meetings saw lots of people at meetings about the bus situation the past year or so and when they threatened to eliminate some of the athletic program. That's the nature of people, not negatively, just people usually care when an issue hits home.
P. J. Miller September 08, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Wait until there is a cut back on something - standing room only. Right now the bus schedule is the same, and nothing traumatic is on the horizon. But wait - as soon as there is hundreds of people will be packing the room. Also need to mention that the WESTBOUND lane on Main Street is a complete horror story. Today Saturday at 2PM it was a pure traffic jam 2 lanes trying to get into 1 lane, no one gives you a break, accidents are in the making. - no turn lane into shopping center as that was removed have to drive down to next block - I NEED TO KNOW' WHO WAS THE IDIOT THAT DECIDED THAT WAS A GOOD THING FOR SMITHTOWN? Why 1 lane west and 2 lanes east? Do eastbound drivers drive safer??? Total stupidity. No logic to this change.
Fed Up September 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I think this board meeting may have been less attended then others considering the time of year. It's the end of the summer, many people vacation during the week right before labor day and before the kids go back to school. I agree, the BOE meeting are not well attended unless there is a specific issue that stirs up the community, but I would wager that this low of a turn out is really because of the time of year. I just don't think people are thinking about school yet.
LINYattitude September 13, 2012 at 01:30 PM
P.J. I agree with you on the traffic pattern - I don't shop in Smithtown anymore not worth fighting traffic there - head south on North Country Rd leading into Smithtown - what a mess - easier to go Port Jefferson than Smithtown lol
P. J. Miller September 21, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Again - Friday Sept 21 the merge lane on Main St going west is a complete disaster! I will never understand why they think this is going to stop a person from getting killed. I guess the 2 lanes going west don't count! Oh, that's right people driving East don't speed!!!!! Totally irrational idea. We should sign a petition and get back Main Street the way it was before this stupid traffic pattern was put in place. It serves no purpose, only pure frustration and people trying to cut other people off, or better yet, driving along the side and hitting someone trying to get out of their car that is parked on the road. Wait until someone gets hurt, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

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