Letter: Pembroke’s loss

Thursday, December 21, 2017
Pembroke’s loss

To the citizens of Pembroke: Full disclosure, I am a state representative, a member of the Pembroke School Board and the school board representative to the municipal budget committee.

Do I have a conflict of interest? I have a vote on the school budget as a member of both the school board and the budget committee. I have a vote on state funding for schools as part of the state budget in the House. I am a taxpayer and vote on matters that affect my taxes. Yet legally, I apparently have no conflict of interest.

This week a member of the municipal budget committee who is also the prime organizer of a local taxpayers’ group (conflict of interest?) forced a longtime member of the school board to resign because she is a substitute teacher in another district, but part of the same SAU. That member of the school board is a graduate of the local schools and a parent of children attending those same schools, and has a long involvement in the board. She has contributed a valuable perspective to the board with her years of selfless service. It is difficult to find citizens to serve on local boards. They are essentially volunteer positions that provide only the satisfaction of serving as a reward. Almost all members of local boards have jobs or other activities that may appear to be conflicts of interest, yet there is little public outcry for resignations as a result.

Technically, that school board person violated a state statute. In reality, as a person who served as a substitute teacher at relatively low pay, she was able to keep in touch with the day-to-day reality of school life, albeit in another district. That knowledge was invaluable in her role as a member of the Pembroke School Board. The community has lost a school board member who was a responsible and effective advocate for parents and children.