Parent Fights For Transparency At Pine Valley

SOUTH DAYTON — Concerned parent Darlene Silleman addressed the Pine Valley Board of Education during a recent meeting, requesting that both the superintendent and the board improve the line of communication with the public regarding a recent rash of teacher departures from the district.

“Since our last meeting, I have heard more from the former teachers,” Silleman told the board. “They say there is no transparent communication between the board and the teachers. They also say that (Superintendent) Scott Payne hasn’t taken the time to get to know the important things about Pine Valley.”

Silleman’s criticism comes in the wake of a considerable and apparently growing rift between the Pine Valley Teacher’s Association and the board of education.

During an “information picket” conducted by scores of teachers and their supporters outside of the Pine Valley school earlier in the month, John Lichtenthal of PVTA contended that the district’s educators require a fair contract, something not currently being offered by Payne and the school board.

“Now we’re in mediation,” Lichtenthal had said. “We want either the possibility of a one year extension or just a fair contract with fair raises.”

In response, Payne has insisted that the PVTA “continues to misrepresent the district’s current compensation proposal which misleads the public and the PVTA membership. The district compensation proposal is tens of thousands of dollars greater than the numbers incorrectly referenced by the PVTA.”

In the meantime, parents like Silleman are finding that the rift between the PVTA and the Board of Education is creating a deleterious educational environment for students at Pine Valley.

“I am not going away and I’m getting more parents involved,” Silleman said. “We want answers. Why, honestly, are teachers leaving? I want the best education possible for my children and I and many other parents feel that we are not getting it here.”

In light of these and other issues, Payne suggested to the board that a “community conversation” be scheduled sometime this month.

“Our intention is to not just make it a Pine Valley conversation, but to open it up to whomever in the region,” Payne said. “We’ll advertise it properly and start the conversation.”