Opinion: PLC chairman should remember leadership isn’t always getting your way

Nelson County Gazette

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 — After attending the last couple of meetings of the Nelson County Schools’ Local Planning Committee, I feel compelled to sound off about what I see as a need to refocus its leadership.

Fifth District Magistrate Eric Shelburne is a Bloomfield resident and chairman of the planning committee. He is also a vocal opponent of any facilities plan that results in the closure of Bloomfield Middle School.

LPC chairman Eric Shelburne makes a piont during the Nov. 10, 2021 committee meeting.

The simple fact is change is hard. Both my children went to BMS and got a great education. But sometimes change is needed to make sure all middle school students can have equal opportunity to excel.

At the last meeting, Shelburne told me that he felt a responsibility to represent his fellow Bloomfield residents’ opinions against the school’s closure. After all, they’re taxpayers too.

My question is this: Mr. Shelburne, what about the rest of us? We’re taxpayers too — and all of the children in the Nelson County Schools district deserve to have equal educational and leadership opportunities.

Shelburne has done an admirable job in his first four-year term as a magistrate on Nelson Fiscal Court. But for the man widely seen as the leading (unofficial) Democratic candidate for judge-executive, his leadership as chairman of the Local Planning Committee hasn’t impressed me.

Shelburne’s actions as chairman have made it clear he’s carrying water for those who are willing to do anything to keep Bloomfield Middle School open.

When viewing a tentative meeting calendar at the Nov. 3rd, meeting, he bristled at the idea of a possible vote on a district facilities plan before the end of the month. The committee will need many more meetings prior to taking a vote, he said.

Shelburne is entitled to his personal point of view, no question about that. But so are the other 19 members of the Local Planning Committee. Perhaps the committee’s direction would become clearer if he asked the committee how many meetings they felt were necessary prior to a vote? Or better yet, which members of the committee are ready to vote on the District Facilities Plans they’ve been reviewing? Some committee members have already expressed their desire to take a vote for a DFP.

Each LPC meeting includes an opportunity for parents — and opponents — to express their points of view. The committee should weigh those comments against the potential benefit the proposed District Facilities Plans offer. I’m confident that as a group they are doing that.

The committee represents the education interests of the entire community. My hope is that Shelburne’s leadership at future meetings will reflect that same commitment and he will avoid using his leadership role to create roadblocks, delays or otherwise derail the committee’s work.

As he and I both frequently observe at Nelson Fiscal Court meetings, one hallmark of true leadership is understanding that you don’t always get the outcome you want.


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