Vanaski: Stone wall up in South Fayette
When it comes to the details of expanding school buildings, most of us are novices.
But when it's happening in your school district, you'd likely be interested in finding out what school board members have in mind, right? You'd probably think you have a right to the information that's in the hand of board members who are talking about expanding the high school.
You'd be right … but wrong.
At a recent board meeting, officials discussed the possibility of expanding South Fayette School District's high school. It's anticipated that it will reach its capacity of 800 students in about two years, so expansion is necessary. The panel talked about design and construction ideas, along with possible costs.
At the end of the meeting, a Tribune-Review reporter asked the board president for a packet of information. He gave her the design and construction information, but nothing about costs.
“I am not giving incomplete, indecipherable financial information to a novice who won't understand it,” Leonard Fornella told her.
That's not a misprint — he really said that. It's good to know an elected representative of the school board has no qualms about insulting a reporter doing her job. Fornella didn't respond to my request for comment on the issue, either.
Fornella encouraged the Trib to file a Right to Know request; the school district denied it when we did. It reasoned that the information on expansion plans is “predecisional” (not a word, by the way), and so it's at the discretion of the board to share what it wants. Technically, that's right. But many things a school board discusses can be described that way. Does that mean that taxpayers don't get to be in on plan that will affect them until they're “decisional”?
It's nice for the board that it could keep the Trib from sharing information with taxpayers who foot the bill. But parents can't have that information, under the same reasoning. That means board members can openly discuss a project that could affect parents financially — but they don't feel obligated to inform them.
The board isn't getting much public pressure to release information. At a subsequent meeting, one parent complained about not having access to the information. She presented a compelling argument.
“I don't know why this is such a deep, dark secret,” South Fayette resident Natalie Cooper told the board. “I don't feel like I have to even complete a Right-to-Know request to get that information. I fill out a Right-to-Know request at the end of every August when I pay my taxes.”
But it is the policy of the district not to address remarks made during the public comment portion of meetings.
So they said nothing.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Torn thumb ligament puts Pirates’ Harrison on DL
- Pirates notebook: Four players selected for All-Star Game
- Two rookies among National League reserves for All-Star Game
- Accident closes Route 22 in Murrysville
- Wild Walk gives treetop view of New York forest
- Murrysville earns top seed in District 31 Legion tournament
- McCandless mom suspected of drowning sons found competent to stand trial
- New Horizons flyby of Pluto on track despite computer glitch
- Idaho wildfire destroys homes, prompts hundreds to evacuate
- Maryland mother charged with leaving baby on roadside
- Half a million faithful attend pope’s Ecuadoran Mass