Senator Wants To "Hit The Refresh Button" On OPS Board

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

Cutting the number of OPS school board members remains the goal of one state lawmaker, trying for a second time to trim the board from 12 to nine.

In the middle of home renovations, Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh was still willing to talk Sunday about reconstructing the OPS School Board. “I had tried this last session and I just think the board would function more efficiently with fewer members.”

He wants a new board consisting of nine members in nine districts. “I think we need larger districts, more high-profile people hopefully running and that's the point of moving it to coincide with the city elections coming up.”

Lautenbaugh re-introduced his proposal Friday. In the past, he argued the board is too weak. He was highly critical that the board was unaware of a costly compensation package that was owed to former superintendent John Mackiel.

Board members won't say much about the proposal. "I'm focused on high student achievement and things that impact high student achievement and research is pretty solid on what impacts high student achievement and board size is not one of those factors," said Marian Fey.

One OPS parent doesn't see the need for change. “I also think that everybody that's in there probably genuinely cares, so I just don't know how to view it,” said Ed Hajenga, who lives across the street from Benson West Elementary and has five children in the OPS school system. He says if anything, they should add more members. “I think the board has probably been doing a fine job and I don’t see any reason to take jobs away.”

Sen. Lautenbaugh isn't happy with the board and hopes other lawmakers agree. “I don't think it's any secret that I don't believe the board is functioning very well right now and I don't think I'm alone. I just think this would help hit the refresh button and start fresh.”

The senator says one of the major factors for this proposal is the current even number of board members, meaning a vote could end in a tie. He hopes reducing it to nine would mean the board would spend a lot less time voting and negotiating items that aren't important.

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