Pine Bluff School Board President Henry Dabner told a whopper at Tuesday night's board meeting. When asked why people were not allowed a chance to speak at the meeting to address concerns, Dabner said, “We were asked by the state department don't do public comments at this time.”
No you were not told that, Mr. Dabner. Reached Wednesday, Arkansas Department of Education spokeswoman Kim Friedman said local school boards set their own policies and procedures regarding public comment.
“The Arkansas Department of Education and State Board of Education did not tell the Pine Bluff School Board it could not accept public comment and would never tell a local board it cannot accept public comment,” Friedman said via email.
How dare you place blame on the state simply because you don't want to hear from concerned employees and patrons.
A note on the door of the school district office's Tuesday night read that “All requests to be on the School Board agenda must be in writing and received by the superintendent ten (10) business days before board meetings.” Community member Jack Foster said he sent a fax to the district 14 days before the meeting asking to speak but wasn't allowed to.
A school board isn't required by law to allow folks to speak, but presenting guidelines for public comments, then saying they are not allowed is wrong. If the district isn't going to allow public speaking — which they absolutely should allow — then they need to place signs up saying that it won't be permitted.
Mow Forward Pine Bluff
A famous line in the musical Oklahoma goes like this: “The corn is as high as an elephant's eye.”
Well, in Pine Bluff, it's the grass. Out by the mall, for starters, the grass is running wild. In other areas of the city, it's out of control as well. As we continue the process of making our city a better place to live, perhaps we should include lawnmowers in that plan. Or, at the very least, make folks cut their grass. There are city ordinances in place for such things, but they clearly aren't being followed.
Unkempt lawns and green spaces at businesses drag us all down. It sends a message that we don't care about our community. We've harped on this very issue before, but only because we feel it's an important one.
Take the plot of land across from the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Third Avenue as an example. We can't remember the last time anyone took care of it. And it's right downtown. We can do better, Pine Bluff. Mow Forward.