City and school officials in Farmington and Farmington Hills are looking for new avenues of communication and ways to heal a rift that developed over past failed school bond issues.
Some members of the Farmington and Farmington Hills city councils spoke against the bond issue, The Observer & Eccentric reports. That has prompted some requests from school officials asking that city officials not speak during the public comment periods at board meetings.
The school board and city councils have traditionally held a annual joint meeting, but that may be replaced by quarterly meetings with selected representatives from each group, Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner told the The Observer & Eccentric.
He said some comments by Farmington Hills City Council members at school board meetings have been “misconstrued,” and relationships might be better served if council members refrained from speaking.
Brickner said he’s trying to be a “peacemaker” and the quarterly meeting schedule could mend some fences.
“I say, let’s try this out and see if it works. We have to get past our differences,” he said. “We still have to communicate with each other ... we can’t act cohesively if we don’t talk to each other.”
Howard Wallach, the president of the Farmington Public Schools board of education, said he thinks more frequent communication is a step in the right direction that will result in the three entities working together on important issues.
He said there’s nothing wrong with city officials voicing their opinions at public meetings, but doesn’t think that’s the appropriate forum for negative comments about each other’s decisions – whether that be a criticism about a school or a city decision.
“We have never appeared at a City Council meeting and advocated the City Council take a particular position or to do business differently than they deem best,” he told the newspaper.
What’s the best way to create a better working relationship between the school board and city councils in Farmington and Farmington Hills?