Round 3: Mingus Union School Board Q&A -- Jason Finger
Question 1: While most government agencies and school districts in the Verde Valley provide audio and/or video documentation of school board meetings, and in some cases make those audio recordings available on their websites, Mingus Superintendent Penny Hargrove says this “is not a practice our board supports.” If elected, would you work to having this changed? Why/why not?
Finger: I think that audio or video recordings would be a helpful tool in improving transparency for the Mingus Union governing board. As a board member, in the past, I have reviewed audio recordings to clarify what was said during a meeting to be sure I didn’t misunderstand or incorrectly recall another’s comments during a meeting. I have been thankful for these audio recordings as they serve to augment the minutes recorded during meetings, which can be a very difficult task for the person tasked for recording those minutes. I do believe that the minutes serve as a record of what transpired during the meeting; but if a board member wants to amend those minutes, which in effect changes the meaning versus grammar of what was recorded, then a recording to refer back to would be a good tool for clarifying in fact what was said. I also believe that it is a useful tool to protect board members should any comments be misquoted. The recordings during the meeting would be a valuable instrument to help set the record straight in absence of any other alternative.
Question 2: In agreeing to the school district consolidation settlement, Mingus Union “will not legally challenge any future consolidation effort using this petition form in any future election cycle.” Is it fair for the current Mingus board to tie the hands of future school boards on this issue? Please explain.
Finger: I don’t believe that Mingus’ agreeing to not legally challenge was a bad or unfair decision. There needed to be some resolution to this issue that obviously had problems on both sides – hence the settlement versus a judgment. The community group supporting consolidation wanted to have this issue considered by the voters, and feared that the lawsuit was only the first of many that may arise to keep the voters from considering the issue. The cost to mount a defense for this suit was a huge burden for a small group of individuals, whereas the cost to litigate this matter did not burden Mingus with any additional cost and was ultimately paid with taxpayer dollars. In reaching this settlement agreement, Mingus reserves its right to voice concerns against consolidation, but does not have the ability to block the voters from exercising their right to vote on this matter should it be brought forth again by the community.