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Citizens voice issues with school system

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Community members' concerns included atmosphere, leadership

By Stevie Lowery

Emotions were running high at Loretto City Hall Monday evening as concerned and curious community members gathered to discuss issues they are having with the Marion County Public School System, specifically with its leadership.

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Marion County School Board Member Mike Cecil organized the forum, but said the crowd was larger than he had expected (there were approximately 50 to 75 people there). With so many people in attendance, Cecil said he and Board Chairman DeLane Pinkston, who was also in attendance, would be doing a lot of listening.

Cecil was quick to set some ground rules.

“This is my meeting,” Cecil said, “by invitation only. So, I’m going to set the rules. You’re my guests here and these are the rules.”

He clarified that discussing personnel issues was “off the table” and if that’s the only thing people wanted to talk about it would be a very short meeting. He then asked Pinkston to go get a cowbell out of his car. He said if he rang the cowbell the meeting would be over.

Once Cecil opened up the floor for comments, several people shared their thoughts, concerns and comments.

Kathy Dow, a grandmother of a West Marion Elementary School student, said while she understood that the school board couldn’t discuss personnel issues, they still needed to understand how those issues are affecting the students of Marion County.

“I think any research that you read in this country will tell you that if there are internal issues going on it directly affects the outcome of our children,” she said. “I’m not asking you to speak about those issues. I understand the laws… but I also know that when we send our children to an atmosphere where there is ongoing conflict… it's going to directly affect the little kids. My question to you is how are we, as a community, going to overcome that?”

You can read much more in this week's edition of The Lebanon Enterprise.