Last week the school board met to discuss closing the elementary school my children attended years ago.
It was an outstanding neighborhood school at the time. The kids got plenty of personal attention. After school there were intramurals, art classes, musicals. There was an elementary orchestra. The principal taught an accelerated sixth grade math group. The kids could walk to school. We felt lucky that we were able to send our children there.
At the board meeting emotions ran high as they nearly always do when a school board contemplates closing a school. Some of the attacks on board members were personal. The board president, a 70-year-old former high school teacher well-respected in the district, was committed to allowing everyone to have his or her say. Tempers flared, and a security guard had to be summoned.
Finally, the board president called for a vote. It was unanimous: All 9 board members voted to close the school.
It isn’t easy for a board member to sit in the line of fire and then make an unpopular public decision. It requires courage and courage takes its toll. In addition, between cuts and contentious contract negotiations, tension at board meetings has been high since last summer.
Shortly after the vote, the board president collapsed. She had suffered a heart attack and died a few minutes later. The Syracuse Post Standard reports that Pat Mouton, President of the Liverpool School Board, was known for her love of children.