Here are two very telling clips from the Nov. 6 Timberlane School Board meeting. Watch it if you want to understand why your School Board is so impotent.
Better to Ask Forgiveness Than Permission
In this first clip you will first see me make a motion to review a publicly announced educational goal of offering online courses for credit. (This was announced during the department heads’ presentations of their budgets at the PAC in October.) Developing online courses has never been discussed at the board level or anywhere else it seems. When Superintendent Metzler was asked directly if he had instructed a staff member to pursue this goal, he would not give a straightforward answer. See my motion go down in flames.
Refuse to Put Contracts Out to Bid
Then (at 6 minutes, 36 seconds) I make a motion to have the rubbish removal contract go out to bid because at the same public session in the PAC, the Facilities Director said the contract had gone up $12,000. I asked about the length of the existing contract and when it was last put out to bid. I could not get an answer out of Mr. Stokinger, who despite being asked, refuses to bring his computer to a meeting. Some districts post this information on their websites. In our district school board members can’t even get an answer. Watch the school board tie itself into ridiculous knots worming its way out of not putting this contract to bid.
For the record, the Facilities Committee does not deal with contracts. That was a complete canard. It hardly needs to be said that this is your tax money being gobbled up by an inexplicable refusal to put contracts out to bid. (At the beginning of the meeting not captured on these clips, the board voted against getting competitive quotes for our liability insurance.) You should also watch Ms. Steenson make a virtue of ignorance by protesting that contract review is not the job of the board. Subsequent to this board meeting, Mr. Hughes announced to the Budget Committee on Nov. 13 that he had made a mistake and the rubbish removal service is going up only $6,000 and not $12,000.
Have Serious Errors in Financial Projections
Next there is Mr. Stokinger publicly admitting that he was in error when he projected hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra Adequacy Aid for the district with the expansion of full-time Kindergarten. Thank you to Arthur Green for catching an error so material that it changes the whole financial complexion of the program. (One of the sheets Mr. Stokinger “regenerated” and distributed at the subsequent Nov. 20th school board meeting still included the erroneous Adequacy Aid. Sigh…)
Use Illegal Non-public Sessions to Hide Discussion of Issues
And finally, in the second clip, you will see the board going into yet another illegal non-public session. Why am I claiming it was illegal? The topic concerned facilities and this is not a permitted exclusion under the Right to Know law. The board deliberately misstates the Right to Know law provision under which non-public sessions can be called to make it seem this topic is permitted. They call it safety and security, but the RSA is exclusively for terrorism. When Mr. Collins called for a non-public under 91-A, subsection (i), I read the SAU’s version of the so-called RSA out loud. A day later I checked the actual RSA and found, as I had thought, that what was purported to be the RSA wasn’t the RSA at all!
This is what the SAU self-servingly misconstrues as the provision in the RSA allowing non-public discussion. It is this which I read aloud at the meeting:
i) Consideration of matters relating to preparation for and the carrying out of such emergency preparations to prevent widespread injury or loss of life [security].
Here is the actual RSA:
(i) Consideration of matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of emergency functions, including training to carry out such functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life.
Even without the benefit of the actual RSA, the moment I learned what the non-public was about, I motioned to exit non-public because the public, I said, had a right to know the information we were discussing. My motion didn’t get a second and the non-public session lasted 20 minutes.