Dave Uphoff |
I was dismayed at the Fieldcrest's Board of Education decision to move the Fieldcrest baseball games from Minonk to Wenona this year. However, I had no illusions that the results of the MinonkTalk survey would sway any votes on the decision. The results of the survey showed that 84% of those responding thought the games should remain in Minonk. Even a majority of Wenona respondents felt the games should remain in Minonk.
So why did I conduct the survey? The main reason was to elicit opinions from those who are reluctant to voice their opinion publicly. Believe me, everyone has an opinion on what is happening at Fieldcrest. Besides favoring keeping the games in Minonk we also learned that many people are disturbed by the fact that so many of Fieldcrest administrators do not live in the school district. I cannot blame that situation on the administrators themselves. The blame belongs to the school board who made the decision to hire them in the first place. I can only speculate but it occurred to me that the majority of the school board members do not live in Minonk. I am sure the board realized that if a administrator were required to live in the district that Minonk would probably be their choice of residence since that is where the Fieldcrest High School is located. Get my drift? Why do Minonk any favors?
This same attitude persists in the decision to move the ball games to Wenona. The decision smacked of self-interest. All three board members from Wenona voted for the change. The deciding vote was cast by a board member from Toluca which just happens to be the town in which the baseball coach resides. The reasons for not moving the games were many. The transportation of students between Minonk and Wenona not only increases potential dangers associated with travel but also is more time consuming and costly. But why worry about the costs? Just pass another referendum. Also, the City of Minonk is planning to spend $25,000 of improvements to the park this summer which should eliminate any drainage problems.
The reasons for moving the games is that possibly a game or two may be canceled because of a wet ball diamond that didn't drain well. But that is pure speculation. A rainy day could cancel games in Wenona also. And then there is the time saved for the baseball coach from not having to travel to Minonk. Which is more important? The safety and time of one man on a highway or the safety and time of 20 kids on the highway? So the second reason for the survey was to determine if the Fieldcrest Board of Education is influenced more by individuals and regionalism or by fairness and the will of the people. I think we now know the answer.
As long as the Fieldcrest Board of Education bases their decisions on self-interest to an individual or to a community and as long as Wenona continues its unfair TIF plan, there will never be harmony in this school district. The Board's decision to move the games to Wenona was blatantly wrong and irresponsible. It is just another sympton of a school district that was founded on a faulty premise and has struggled ever since to gain any sense of solidarity. In 1991 the Minonk-Dana-Rutland School District was in sound financial shape. Then a move to consolidate was initiated and promoted by then Superintendent Gerald Christiansen and Board of Education President Joe Knapp. Then Wenona slipped in its unfair TIF district under Superintendent John Capasso's watch. They are gone and we are left holding an expense laden, revenue deprived school district.
The residents of Minonk have no one to blame but themselves for the current situtation. Too few of us showed up to vote and we foolishly split the vote among too many candidates in the last election and elected only 1 new member to the Board. As Christie Ruestman told me, why didn't the parents of those baseball players who are going to be traveling from Minonk to Wenona show up at the school board meeting last Thursday night? As long as Minonk residents remain apathetic and refuse to get involved, Minonk will continue to lose out in decisions made by the Fieldcrest Board of Education.
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