Comment session gets personal
By RACHEL COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
Prickly interactions have marked USD 480 board of education meetings in the past several months, but board member Tammy Sutherland-Abbott proposed turning over a new leaf during the board comments section of Monday’s meeting. After a testy exchange with her fellow board members at the previous regular meeting April 7, Sutherland-Abbott was “disappointed,” she said.
She’d intended to arrive at the Monday meeting with a request to take down the “Social Contract” framed poster that occupies the east wall of the meeting room. It was her way of objecting to the disagreements and misunderstandings between board members.
Then, she shared with board members, Easter weekend came.
“And looking in the mirror, I realized that I need to allow that Easter spirit in my heart,” she said. “I am going to ask for us to be better for everyone.”
Though fellow board members did not immediately respond to Sutherland-Abbott’s comments, the mood for the remainder of the meeting was positive, with many board members voicing appreciation for teachers, students and, overwhelmingly, voters who approved the school bond issue during the special election April 8.
“I’m still pinching myself,” said board president Delvin Kinser. “I want to thank everyone who got behind the bond issue and election. Just … wow.”
Kinser, too, shared a personal anecdote that resulted from a recent trip he took to eastern Kansas. Driving through the small town of Crestline, he noticed a dilapidated, brick school. It was boarded up and abandoned, like most of the town, Kinser said, and on closer inspection, “I saw that it had been built in 1928 — the year after we built McDermott Elementary here in Liberal,” he said. “Half the town’s boarded up. Thank God people in Liberal want to move forward.”