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Published: Saturday, 6/10/2006

How about 'Five for Kids'?

FIRST it was "3 For Change." Then there were two for change. Now it's "3 For Children." How about this for a board of education coalition: "Five For Kids."

Unless the Toledo Board of Education gets past the divisiveness that has compromised its own effectiveness and the school district's mission - and soon - the citizens of Toledo might very well form a coalition of their own before the November election: "Zero for the Levy."

School board members don't have to like each other, but a little more respect and a willingness to work together would go a long way.

Instead, the two board members who campaigned with a third candidate as "3 for Change" - Darlene Fisher and Robert Torres - now find themselves against "3 for Children" - veteran board members Deborah Barnett and Larry Sykes and newcomer Steven Steel.

Voters expect and deserve a school board where all the members work together for students, but they haven't been getting it since the newly constituted board was sworn in back in January.

The awkwardness of the situation was never more evident than in the clumsy handling of the departure of Superintendent Eugene Sanders.

The board's returning members, Ms. Barnett and Mr. Sykes, and Mr. Steel insist their new coalition wants to move the district forward and end the strife. Mr. Sykes stressed the point. The coalition, he said, "is not an attack on the other board members."

That probably comes as a surprise to Ms. Fisher, the board's president, and Mr. Torres, but we hope they mean it.

It's clear that if the board members don't do better by the time they finally get around to telling us the amount of a levy they will put on the November ballot, they won't have the public's support. In any event, they will have to work hard for it. If the vote were today, a levy would fail.

In the absence of an election of board members, citizens have only one way to deliver a vote of no-confidence, and that is to vote down a levy.

Unless this board gets together behind a common cause, an otherwise legitimate pitch for financial support isn't likely to go anywhere.

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