The Mulberry community finally had its say Tuesday night about what a new elementary school in the city should be named.
The Polk County School Board voted months ago to name the new school after outgoing Superintendent Gail McKinzie, who held the job for six years but otherwise has no history with the area, especially with Mulberry. Citizens, rightly, were upset that they were not asked to give input and didn’t want to name the school after McKinzie.
Board member Hazel Sellers, whose district includes Mulberry, finally realized it was time to sit down with the community and give them their say. She then said at Tuesday’s meeting that the board was wrong in the first place.
“In an emotional moment of wanting to give (McKinzie) a nice surprise, I will tell you we skipped over sound processes and procedures,” Sellers said, according to The Ledger.
This was a classic example of government not listening to its constituents, or more specifically in this case even letting them have their say. So yeah, the board should have handled this better.
What’s worrisome is that had the board not made such a controversial decision, nothing probably would have been said about it not letting citizens give input. Even if they had gone with Willow Oak Elementary from the start – which some citizens want – it would have been a poor process if they had done so without at least bringing in some community members for their thoughts.
School names should reflect the community in which they are located, and the Polk County School Board needs to make sure something like this never happens again. They don’t have to agree with citizens and take every suggestion, but they at least need to listen to them and explain whatever decision they make.
Hazel Sellers finally gets it, but it’s a few months too late. Hopefully her fellow board members will follow suit.