Concerns over comments said at Boards of Ed.

Editorial: It has been brought to the attention of the Hampton Chronicle Editorial Board that the paper, and the community media as a whole, was the target of several criticisms at last week’s Hampton-Dumont (H-D) and CAL joint board of education meeting for the collective handling of previous board meetings of the two respective boards.

The meeting’s agenda focused on introducing new members, discussing the transportation agreement between the two districts, whole grade sharing updates and possible questions about the process going forward. Tensions were raised when the meeting began, as both boards reconciled over the previous H-D meeting on September 18, specifically about the article published about it headlined, “H-D Board to seek joint meeting with CAL over transportation.”

In this article, the H-D board expressed frustrations with CAL’s rightful decision to deny a transportation request that would challenge an agreement in place between the H-D and CAL districts. The issue over the particular case was covered for several issues and months leading up to that meeting, and the ensuing meeting between both boards.

The CAL board expressed its displeasure with the story and its contents, mainly the opinions of the H-D board made at its September meeting. However, a portion of those concerns and comments among the CAL board, and the H-D board entailed culpability on the part of the Hampton Chronicle and other members of the community media.

The Hampton Chronicle strives to be an unbiased source of news, and prides itself on journalism principles and practices and accuracy. Other media in the community has those same values, and those commitments.

For clarity, the Hampton Chronicle and other media report on meetings and issues within these communities. What is printed in the paper are the opinions and facts associated with the sources who said them. Any presumption that the Hampton Chronicle or other members of the media tailor content to sell papers or grow an audience, as was stated at the board meeting, is disappointing. That is not the value we instill in our staff, and certainly not how we hope to serve the community.

The headline “H-D Board to seek joint meeting with CAL over transportation” was a factually correct and accurate headline, based on what was said at the H-D meeting. H-D board members wished to speak with the CAL board about its decision. At a time when a joint meeting had neither been publically scheduled, nor agenda printed, the wish to have a meeting between both boards regarding transportation was the information at hand.

To also insinuate that the Hampton Chronicle has treated both communities differently is false. Every effort is taken to provide all types of coverage available to both communities. When the comment is said that the Hampton Chronicle did not recognize that an amended agreement regarding operational sharing dollars had been reached between both boards, we urge both boards to refer back to the October 19, 2016 issue, in which the Hampton Chronicle talked about the agreement that had been reached to ensure that both school districts were paying their fair shares for services provided to the districts.

Lastly, to also insinuate that the Hampton Chronicle and other media have blown the issues between the boards out of proportion is completely side-stepping the issues the boards have with each other and scapegoating the media, who merely reports what each board is saying.

Both boards need to be completely open and honest with each other, as well willing to listen and understand that honesty. Failure to do anything less is unproductive to the future relationship of the communities.

This is not to say that the Hampton Chronicle and other media are self righteous in their existence; rather, to say that this relationship between CAL and H-D is just beginning to take shape and grow. There are bound to be differences in opinion about what is best for their own students, and what is best for the county’s students as a whole.

In fall of 2018, all things holding steady, the two districts will be married, and their seventh through 12th grade students united under one district. To assume that coming together through this whole process in under a decade would not have its share of growing pains doesn’t take into account the history and pride held in both districts. Growing pains are a part of the process of learning. Dust ups will lead to better practices and approaches in dealing with each other.

In addition, the boards need guidance, perspective and fairness from their administration. If tensions are beginning to escalate, the shared administration between both districts needs to step in and find a productive way to resolve the issues, instead of allowing it to fester.

The Hampton Chronicle appreciates the comments made by H-D Board Member Chad Hanson, when he said that the boards “should have just talked about [transportation],” instead of going back and forth at respective board meetings, and proposed having more open lines of communications to prevent such circumstances from happening again.

The Hampton Chronicle is not in the business of becoming a gossip paper. It is in the business of reporting on the issues that impact the community. It is not an instigator.

If this future sharing arrangement is going to work, sidestepping issues and brushing them under the rug is not going to help. Owning respective comments and concerns is imperative to success, rather than pointing fingers.

We believe the Hampton Chronicle speaks for both communities when it says that it would be beneficial for the two boards to work through their differences for the benefit of children seeking an education. The Hampton Chronicle wants to help in anyway possible, and will continue to report on the good, the bad and the great.