The Sham of School Board Meetings

The chairman of the school board has told me that she cannot fit in my agenda requests because our meetings are too full.  The agendas have become too full  with innumerable presentations requiring no action by the board.  Our meetings are being co-opted but I am the only member who seems to have an issue with this. By policy willingly agreed to by the school board, the  agenda is set by the superintendent in cooperation with the school board chairman.

Two very important examples of the sham that our meetings have become will be on display this Thursday night.  Ten minutes is allotted to action items ” high school athletic facilities” and another ten minutes to “Fund Retention option.”  These ten minute items have the potential to involve spending a hundred  thousand dollars or more out of this year’s projected surplus – money very much needed to moderate tax bills this coming December. These are the most critical items on Thursday’s agenda and already you can smell the rubber stamp being warmed in the back room.

Did I mention that an Eagle scout project has been allotted 15 minutes, and a student cooperative engineering project another 15 minutes? Half an hour on these two items is misplacing the board’s proper emphasis. While we appreciate Eagle Scouts’ valuable contributions and a cooperative engineering program is good to know especially in light of the reservations the board has with Project Lead the Way, neither of these things should be rushing our deliberations about issues that deeply affect families, namely taxes.

On Monday I made a written request to the school board chairman to provide in advance a written proposal concerning the Fund Retention to include the amount of money proposed, the amount of the current projected surplus, and the budget lines from which this money is being removed.  A similar request was made concerning the proposal, whatever it might be, for the athletic facilities. The information has not been forthcoming. This shows the disdain in which my requests are held and the complete disregard that is shown to giving the board truly insightful information in order to make thoughtful and considered decisions.  We can’t make informed decisions, which is  why any item requiring action is given so little time on our agendas.

For those following the matter, Mr. Green has been forced to make yet another Right to Know request to obtain the month-end financials for May.  So far he has received not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement from the SAU. We expect the charge to obtain this information will be another $8.

[Thursday’s meeting will begin with a tour of the athletic facilities at 7 p.m., then resume at the SAU building at 7:30 p.m.]

Thursday’s agenda is reproduced below:

1. Call to Order – Chair
2. Roll Call – Clerk
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Approval of Minutes
a. June 5th Meeting
5. Delegations or Individuals
6. Current Business
a. Eagle Scout Projects* – INFORMATIONAL (15)
b. School Board Student Rep – ACTION (5)
c. TRHS/Norwood High Engineering Project Collaboration – INFORMATIONAL (15)
d. High School Athletic Facilities – ACTION (10)
e. Fund Retention Option – ACTION (10)
f. Guided Reading Libraries – INFORMATIONAL (15)
g. District Action Plan* – INFORMATIONAL (20)
h. Driver’s Education Update* – INFORMATIONAL (10 minutes)
i. Business Partnerships* – INFORMATIONAL (15)
j. Tuition Requests – ACTION (5)
7. Administrator’s Report
a. Update on School Activities – INFORMATIONAL
8. Personnel Report
9. Reports of the School Board
10. Correspondence Folder
11. Vendor and Payroll Registers
12. Other Business
a. Non-public (if needed)
13. Future Dates

UPDATE:  6/18/14    Very shortly after this posting, the SAU posted on our private SharePoint site the  NESDEC enrollment projections which were one of the pieces of information I had requested in advance.  The SAU has been in possession of this extensive 9-year projection since Feb. 28, 2014. Mr. Green was also told his May financials would be available on Monday.  The chairman has informed me that Mr. Stokinger will be posting his budget information this afternoon which I take to mean we will learn about the projected surplus .  We shall see.  25.5 hours to the meeting and counting.

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Filed under Expenditures, School Board Functioning, Taxes, The Mushroom Farm

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