OPINION

LETTER: School board

Douglas A. Darling/Leavenworth

To the editor:

Mr. Grossman bats one out of five in his assertions in a letter to the editor. The one thing he got right was that USD 453 superintendent Dr. Roth’s salary is in the top 10% of superintendent salaries in Kansas. I was in the room when Dr. Roth gave his guidance to the various building principals in March 2020 when COVID shut down the schools. He was then and continues to be a solid decision maker in very difficult situations and I can think of no better example of true leadership in a civilian environment. I value him greatly. I have known eight different superintendents since I came to Leavenworth in 1983, and Dr. Roth is the best one to date.

I am not the current board president. Mr. Grossman was at the August Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Aug. 9 when and where the current board president, Mrs. Price, ran the meeting.

Mr. Grossman alleges that I have nothing to show for 16 years of unpaid service on the Leavenworth BOE. I would suggest that the current first-class school buildings and other district facilities approved by the voters during those years and constructed on time and to budget are something to show for that service. This includes the entire Warren school complex (fifth to eighth grade). It also includes the Lawson Early Childhood Center which allows the district to concentrate its resources on the early identification and rapid response to student needs in those grades. I am proud of the one to one ratio of students to computers in the district reached during my tenure on the BOE. The national awards won by everything from the high school drama department, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, DECA, the millions of dollars handed out every year in scholarships to our high school seniors and many other things are what I can show for my 16 years of volunteer service stretching over four different decades. 

I have no idea how he determined that the Leavenworth’s students are testing two grade levels behind. The BOE is getting its report on last spring’s test results in September.

Federalist Paper No. 10 states: “The effect of the first difference (between a democracy and a republic) is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.” This is a republic and not a democracy. I know that my vote on situational masking was for what I discerned to be the true interest of the school district and its students.

I based my vote at the August BOE meeting on situational masking on the need to keep students in school. That is the best place for them to learn.

The delta variant is as communicable as chicken pox and everything I have read or viewed on the subject makes me believe that it is going to go through our schools this fall. Atlanta area schools already have 20,000 COVID cases this school year. I hope that I am wrong on this. I don’t know which students have medical problems that would make them likely to be seriously ill or die from COVID. The county health department has the power to close the schools. Ask your parents or grandparents about how public health agencies closed public swimming pools in the 1950s before the polio vaccine was available. 

I talked or electrically communicated with a lot of people over the Aug. 5-9 period. I don’t remember telling anyone that I was going to vote for voluntary maskings in our schools so I don’t know the specifics of Mr. Grossman’s claim that I lied to the public. I did tell people that I would read or view information they provided me on both sides of the issue. I did that. I also did my own research. Big surprise, the medical experts disagree. I chose to support a course of action that required masking in our schools when social distancing could not be maintained per guidance from national, state and local public health offices. That would allow the schools to stay open. Once again, I am not sure how that constitutes lying to the public.  

Douglas A. Darling is a member of the Leavenworth school board.

– Douglas A. Darling/Leavenworth