The most frustrating part about watching the school board is the lack of contributions by the seven members of the school board. With the exception of Trustee Karen Yelsey’s declaration that drugs are “rampant” in Newport Beach and a subsequent attempt to create an awareness campaign, the past several years have seen almost no – perhaps zero – direct board member contributions to a process of continuous improvement.

What taxpayers have instead is seven rubber stampers who approve nearly everything presented to them by the administrative staff and rarely ask appropriate questions about cost, expectations, or best practices.

And though they do not realize it, they are treated by the staff as nice and well-meaning citizens who should just do exactly as they’re told on the agenda twice a month: Approve everything.

The revelation of a conflict of interest at the meeting on 6/23 proved that the staff has become complacent and that because they expect everything to be approved based on their recommendation, there is little or no concern about accountability.

As a result, what taxpayers rarely hear – extraordinarily rarely, so to speak – are the words, “I have an idea I want to present to my colleagues on the board and to the staff.”

The case in point is a news story I read a week or so ago reporting that students in classrooms with standup desks perform better than those who sit. I could have told them this, based on my own experiences working at a standup desk, but then we would not have had the reputable studies supporting this idea.

From Science Daily: “A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.”

This is a scientific report from a reputable institution that was reported by Science Daily in April. The desk improvement concept is low cost, high return, and does not involve an army of people to execute.

Yet, not a single board member thought to bring this to anyone’s attention for testing in, for example, any of the four elementary schools on the Westside that need all the help they can get.

Nor was the idea presented by any member of the administration’s million-dollar brain trust.

That, plain and simple, is complacency. Complacency is the cousin to accountability. Where there is no accountability, complacency thrives.

So, the board members sit on the dais, smiling and handing out awards, and looking stunned when any member of the public has anything negative to say. They lack the will to change anything and sacrifice their own accountability on the alter of cooperation: As long as the 7-0 votes continue, all is well.

Once again, kids lose while board members snooze.

Steve Smith