the ground says stop maplenol barn

Do you see the word "STOP" in the mud? Eerie, eh?

photo by bowmama

Trying to save the barn has been a process.

Here is a list of things that have been revealed to me during barn saving efforts. I don’t know why these things are true, but they all happened. I’m going to guess why. Just keep in mind that I really don’t know the reason.

  • People asked Friends of the Maplenol Barn (FMB) many various questions. [FMB is the corporation that was formed to preserve the barn if the district had allowed it. FMB members moderate the Facebook page and] Why? My guesses are
    • People don’t trust the school district staff and board of education to give an honest answer
    • They asked staff or board but didn’t get an answer
    • Staff or board was slow in responding or gave insufficient information or hyperlinks that were difficult to find
    • FMB seemed like peers, more approachable, friendlier
    • Our contact info was easier to find or memorize (the board does not have email)
    • FMB was more knowledgeable in history of the barn, dairy farms, and the Good family
    • I truly don’t know
  • The board of education always votes on agenda items unanimously. Why? My guesses are
    • No one wants to dissent alone. Perhaps “dissent buddies” would lead to more discussion and split voting.
    • Peer pressure or fear (from whom? of what? I don’t know).
    • Not enough information to make an informed dissent. Maybe this is a meeting packet and timing issue. A person can always ask….but see fear, above.
    • They feel they have no influence and won’t make a difference (aka apathy) if they dissent.
    • I’m out of guesses.
    • Our peers in Knoxville tried to help me “keep it real” on this issue, but I’m still seriously mystified by this.
  • Members of the board of education are the top vote getters. If there are three open seats and five people running, the seats go to the three candidates with the most votes. There are no precincts, wards, or other neighborhood areas that the board represents. Why? My guesses are
    • It’s easiest this way.
    • Voter participation is not high enough to warrant dividing the school district into wards.
    • Not enough candidates, too many seats.
    • I am out of ideas for this one.
  • We have many Facebook fans (2098), which have been viewed as 201 more ‘votes’ than the top school board candidate received in the 2009 School Board election. We have even more who are not on Facebook (that would be the subscribers to this blog). Why? My guesses are
    • The education system is a given. It will exist no matter who is elected (aka apathy) and people feel that they can’t or won’t be able to influence policy.
    • There are no wards to garner board member loyalty (fans) from the district’s population (population appears to be over 55,000, source). “He represents my neighborhood.” “She is our neighborhood’s voice.” Have you ever heard those lines?
    • Lack of strong relationships between parents and the board. See above. Theoretically, each director represents all the residents, regardless of neighborhood.
    • Board members are not recognizable to the public as board members. They have their photos on the school district website, but the site has so much information that one would have to intentionally seek out an image and study it in order to figure out if a board member is walking down the street or hallway.
    • School board elections are irrelevant to retirees with no family members in the schools. Barns are more relevant to retirees.
    • Social media (absence and presence of)
    • The district doesn’t want high voter turn-out (see below)
    • Elections are in September. Most people think of November as election time. Aside: If the school year begins in August, then why do terms begin and end in September?
    • The experience of the barn has a place in alumni hearts, making it more endearing than school board members (see ‘relationships’ and ‘wards,’ above.)
    • I have more ideas for this, but I’ll stop. I am just rambling now. Every individual has his or her own reason for voting and signing a petition. There are probably as many reasons as there were petition signers and Facebook fans.
    •  For the Office of Director, West Des Moines Community School District (3 To Be Elected) there were 6,153 votes cast, of which Elizabeth Brennan had 1,897 votes, Jill Hansen had 1,880 votes, Mark Lagomarcino had 1,598 votes, Veleta Lucas-Emtpy had 742 votes, and Scattering had 36 votes. Elizabeth Brennan, Jill Hansen and Mark Lagomarcino were elected. (source)