Brainerd School District residents who are interested in learning more about their schools owe a thank-you to Superintendent Jerry Walseth.
The superintendent, who just completed his first year at the helm of the Brainerd schools, opted on Monday to keep his performance evaluation hearing open to the public. He could have allowed the Brainerd School Board to close the meeting, delaying and watering down the information citizens would have received about his performance.
It's more than just nosiness that would motivate people to want information on Walseth's performance. How he performs his job has a direct bearing on the quality of our schools.
And the public learned that overall, he's been doing a great job. Because Walseth allowed the meeting to be kept open school district residents heard the full discussion, the complaints as well as the praise. In the end it was an overwhelmingly positive review.
Monday night's school board meeting made us wonder why state law allows governmental bodies to close meetings to conduct evaluations. The law provides that if the person being evaluated wants it open, it stays open.
Even when evaluation meetings are closed state law mandates that a summation of the public body's conclusions be made public at the next public meeting.
All the exception to the open meeting law really accomplishes is delaying the news and depriving the public of the full flavor of the discussion. We think readers are intelligent enough to read the favorable and unfavorable aspects of an evaluation and make their own judgments.
Because Walseth chose to keep the deliberations open the public got a candid look at how school board members and administrators regard him.
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