The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis schools set good example for public entities


September 24, 2017

We don’t always agree with local public officials, especially those who favor back-room negotiations over transparency and “majority rules” over what’s right and just.

That should come as no surprise as we’ve not been shy about sharing our positions over the years.

And so it’s important to also point out those in community leadership positions whose actions respect the taxpayers who have entrusted them with their best interests.

Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Directors and its superintendent, Jody Balch, have set examples for everybody else in recent weeks.

• On Monday, the four-person school board was tasked with selecting a fifth member following the recent resignation of Justin Howalt, who is preparing to become Clovis’ city manager.

The board could have gone behind closed doors to interview and scrutinize the four candidates who wanted the job. Instead, it held interviews and debated candidate merits in a public forum.

And it wasn’t like they’d talked privately and knew what everybody wanted to do (which is illegal, but not unheard of).

School board members were torn between car dealer Shawn Hamilton and former City Manager Raymond Mondragon, ultimately settling on Hamilton after several votes and some tense moments.

It was refreshing to see the public’s business played out in public, with integrity; the school's policy makers conducted themselves professionally, showing respect to everyone in the room.

• Balch was under pressure earlier this month when telephoned threats were made at local schools and across the city, supposedly in connection with the Aug. 28 shooting rampage at Clovis’ library.

Some parents and others called for Balch to close schools until community fear could subside.

He refused.

Working in concert with police, and with a heavy police presence and other security measures in place, he ensured classes met on schedule.

If he’d closed schools because of the uncertainty and concern, as much of the social media world loudly demanded, they might have stayed closed for days.

Balch set an example for students and others — we have to face our fears head on, responsibly.

• We also commend Balch for his quick action last month when someone complained about a Scripture-based mural painted on a public school building.

While the mural had been at the Freshman Academy for years, Balch said he’d never noticed the Bible verse inscribed until someone said it concerned them.

Most Clovis residents are Christian and many supported the expression of faith in the public space, but Balch recognized that a taxpayer-supported institution has to respect all taxpayers, including those of minority faiths.

He had the mural painted over before most of us knew there was an issue.

We disagreed with him a few football seasons ago when he declined to say why Coach Eric Roanhaus was missing from the sidelines during a game, citing privacy concerns. We still think he was wrong about that. But we’ve come to respect his decisive, thoughtful actions in troubled times, especially these past few weeks.

Clovis Municipal Schools is setting an example of transparency and fairness and courage that all of our public entities should aspire to duplicate.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc.’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rob Langrell and Editor David Stevens.


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