If you happened to attend the January MKNA Board meeting, you likely noticed that the majority of the meeting was taken up with a rather agitated conversation about education. A representative of one of the groups that’s proposing reforms for IPS ws invited to speak, and, because unlike our friends at MKNHN, MKNA has public meetings and publishes its agenda, representatives from other groups with opinions concerning IPS also showed up and in an equally vigorous manner, expressed their opinions as well. I presume MKNA eventually got around to conducting business, but since education consumed over an hour of the meeting, and IU was about to be trashed by Minnesota, I missed that part, along with other Board members.
The issue the Board meeting brought up, at least in my mind, is the actual role of a neighborhood association, which basically is to deal with issues that arise inside their neighborhood. that offer the possibility for the neighborhood to impact change.
Just a few years ago the biggest issue in Meridian Kessler was property taxes. If you remember back that far, homeowners were paying nearly five percent of their home’s value in local taxes, and people were leaving for suburbs with much lower tax rates. Hardly a week went by without an organized protest somewhere in the neighborhood. More than a couple of MKNA meetings began, and ended, with property tax discussions, and not much else got done.
MKNA’s President back then (a very wise guy) made the decision to move the discussion away from the MKNA Board, and appointed a committee to deal with the issue. Literally dozens of meetings were held, and the committee actually learned a tremendous amount about property taxes in Indiana. Position papers were drafted, mostly by individuals, because the committee never reached much consensus on the solution. In the end, of course, the legislature came up with its solution to the problem, and like Prufrock, the neighborhood moved on to the next hundred visions and revisions.
Now I’ve said before that education is probably the most important issue facing Meridian Kessler - true today and true even before the property tax issue. If families don’t deem our schools acceptable, or do deem them acceptable but aren’t able to get their kids into those schools, families will continue to leave the area, and a neighborhood that isn’t filled with children won’t always be improving.
That said, MKNA isn’t going to solve the issue of schools in our neighborhood, especially not at a Board meeting attended by thirty or forty people. That’s not to say the ‘neighborhood’ can’t impact eventual decisions, because we’re a neighborhood of close to 20,000 people.
It was suggested last night that MKNA sponsor a meeting regarding education. Naturally the group that suggested this was one of the groups already proposing a solution, and it seemed to be presumed that such a meeting would be utilized to let them present their position. Back in the tax issue days the same thing was proposed by a group whose solution was to simply eliminate property taxes, and the notion that MKNA ought to sponsor such a meeting actually got some traction on MKNA’s Board at the time, and eventually evolved into a debate on the issue, which I admit would have worked out better if either of the debaters had actually appeared at the debate.
Anyway, if MKNA were to sponsor such a meeting, it likely ought to be open to all groups with a position on the issue. That, unfortunately would seem to include dozens, if not hundreds of groups, and probably involve a meeting that lasted somewhat longer than the last constitutional convention. Presumably by the time such a meeting ended, or was ended by police hauling away the hopelessly conflicted attendees, the legislature would probably have enacted their version of a solution, loved by some, hated by others.
All of which takes me back to the role of a neighborhood association as it relates to issues that, while desperately important to the neighborhood, perhaps aren’t succeptable to a solution from within the neighborhood. Personally, I think the solution is to provide information. While MKNA never itself solved the property tax problem, it was able to post on its website, a tremendous amount of information concerning the issue, some neutral, some presented by groups that had formed distinct opinions.
To that end, please submit replies to this post. Post links to the organizations that already have staked out positions. Post your speeches, rants, positions, or whatever. As long as we have bandwidth, they’ll stay here. (Did anyone notice that the Star now uses Facebook for the posting of comments to their articles? Must save them a ton of storage.) Just don’t come to MKNA Board meetings to discuss something MKNA can’t solve. If MKNA does decide to host a forum on education, you’ll hear about it, and while I’ll likely be watching a basketball game somewhere, I’ll feel your pain.