Citizens suspicious of Hancock School Board’s lack of transparency

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The Hancock School Board came under fire during its regular meeting Monday, when a district resident charged the members with not being more open in advertising the application period for filling board vacancies. From left, Mary Babcock, Wendy Chynoweth, Michael Lancour and Randy Heinonen were the four board members at the meeting. Chuck Paoli was out of town but contributed via teleconference.

HANCOCK — The School Board received criticism at its regular meeting Monday, when Hancock resident John Loosemore told the board he felt advertising for applications to fill the board vacancies could have been conducted more energetically.

Loosemore said it became apparent to him the vacancies would be filled soon, and the resulting full board would make the very important selection of a new superintendent before fall.

“I just came to the realization of what’s going on by myself,” he said, “and now it’s too late to apply.”

Loosemore said he had viewed the School Board’s page on the school district website several times while reading minutes of past board meetings,

“There was no announcement about the board openings or application procedure in either of these obvious, highly visible, common-sense places,” he said. “Apparently there was a brief notice posted on the ’employment opportunities’ page.”

Loosemore added while advertising for board applications, the board could have used more aggressive means.

“We have a very convenient communication system,” he said, suggesting emailing residents of the district.

“Every day I get emails, about sports things, booster clubs, school cancellations,” Loosemore said. “Why was no email ever sent out about these openings?”

It seems like this is a purposeful attempt by the board, he said, to restrict the public from knowing the procedure was occurring.

Loosemore said he found it very frustrating that as a person extremely interested in, and actively searching for information on what is going on, he managed to not get the correct information until it was too late.

“I think the underwhelming efforts of some current School Board members, and current administrators, largely set the stage for this,” Loosemore said in an email to the Daily Mining Gazette, which did print the notice.

“It’s a good way for members to get their buddies on the board,” he told the board. “It seems that way to me.”

He went on to ask who knows what kind of candidates are out there, and asked if it was ethical to just leave it up to the public to discover for themselves that there is a process somewhere to seek it.

“Why didn’t you advertise for people? Why didn’t you go out looking for people? Shake the bushes,” he said.

Loosemore was not the only resident to voice criticism for the board’s handling of issues during the regular meeting Monday. Kevin Maki also addressed the board.

Kevin Maki, who said he did fill out an application, said he will begin attending the meetings regularly, and asked a question regarding a resolution introduced and approved by the board earlier.

“Isn’t it normal for resolution language to be read into the record prior to voting on it?” he said.

He was told his question would not be answered.

“This is not a discussion,” board member Randy Heinonen informed him. “This is a comment period.”