So Chris Fraser walked out of a Charleston County School Board meeting Monday night.
The question here is: What took him so long?
Fraser’s official title is board chairman, but his job is actually ringmaster of the most dysfunctional circus in this state. That’s saying something.
This school board routinely meets for four hours at a clip because, as Fraser said, it takes them an hour to do what should take five minutes. For a group that gripes so much about its paltry pay, they do their best to lower their per-hour compensation.
Now, as board member Elizabeth Moffly says, it’s not their job to be a rubber-stamp for the administration — and she’s right. But the board’s role is largely to set policy. Yet some of them feel the urge to micromanage everything in the district ad nauseam. Or nausea.
It’s either that, or they just like to hear themselves talk.
Sadly, no one else does.
There was nothing atypical about Monday’s meeting — and that’s the problem. The nuttiness never stops at 75 Calhoun.
First, they couldn’t approve the minutes of the previous meeting until Elizabeth Kandrac read them aloud, apparently in protest of the part that mentioned her taking yet another taxpayer-funded junket after her final meeting as a board member, in October.
Then, when the district asked the board to sign off on hiring a new executive director of strategy and communication, Kandrac asked for the candidate’s SAT scores and wanted to give her a writing test.
Finally, there was an hour spent on a routine contract with local police forces to keep cops in the schools. The same thing happened last year, forcing the board to have a “workshop” on it. But still, a few board members said they didn’t get their questions answered. Actually, other board members say, they just didn’t like the answers they got.
It’s no wonder Fraser walked out.
All this sideshow stuff may play well with the talk radio crowd, but it accomplishes nothing.
When Fraser noted they were wasting time, board member Chris Collins pointed out that they could talk all night. He’s right.
And that seems to be the point here — yammering, that is — much more so than actually improving schools.
Board members and district officials are loathe to talk about this on the record, for fear of fanning the flames. But bottom line is, they say that one side of this board refuses to compromise (sound familiar) and monopolizes the discussion before the majority rules. There’s no civility, no respect for Robert’s Rules of Order, and no respect for the chairman.
If Fraser has done anything wrong, it’s is attempting to be fair to every board member — because they haven’t returned the favor.
Fraser was making a big statement when he walked out, and voters ought to listen. Perhaps we should start asking school board candidates for their SAT scores — and proof of residency.
And they should all sign a pledge promising to never join the circus.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC