Proof that the Assistant Business Administrator is a Professional and Other Things that Go Bump in the Night

Back at the beginning of July, Peter Bealo and I had an lively exchange about the fact that the SAU was advertising for a new Assistant Business Administrator without informing the SAU board, without getting approval from the SAU board for an increase in stated salary range, and for not having the SAU board accept the resignation of the previous Assistant Business Administrator, Kathleen Smith. You can see our email exchanges here.

SAU policy requires all professional positions at the SAU to be filled with approval of the SAU board after a search committee is established by the SAU board to include an SAU board member. Needless to say the SAU board was not notified about Ms. Smith’s resignation, about the subsequent advertisement with a higher salary, nor was a search committee formed.

In defense of the disregard of yet another policy, Mr. Bealo then argued, disingenuously in my opinion, that the position was not a professional position at all and therefore the SAU was free to do whatever it wanted to without SAU board involvement.

Well, as it happens, I was perusing the non-public site under “agenda packets” that the district maintains and there I found Ms. Smith’s former employment contract. It has a clause stipulating that it will pay for Ms. Smith’s annual “professional association” membership fees in no fewer than four professional associations including the Association of School Business Officials.

Mr. Bealo is chairman of the Policy Committee at Timberlane and the chairman of the SAU board.

What else is the board not told?

I’ve just jotted these down in random order:

  • Updates and any or all legal filings with respect to Mrs. Morse’s law suit including filings with respect to her petition for an injunction.  There has been zero word about this to the SB – but plenty said to the press.
  • SAU audits – until I requested it this summer. The SAU board has not been seeing the audits.
  • Fire inspection reports required to be given to the school board – until brought up by a discussion on Facebook
  • Number of staff employed by the district and the change in number of positions. The board has to wait like the public does to find out how many people we employ when the district files its personnel reports with the Department of Education in October of every year. Yet we are asked to blindly approve a raft of summer hiring without being told how many of these positions were previously vacant – despite the superintendent being asked directly by me.
  • Monthly expenditure reports [Updated for clarification 9/7/15] These reports should be a standing agenda item and be provided and posted regularly and promptly every month. In fairness, this was the first year the SAU is making them available on the web so that is a good first step. On August 27, the SB was given in print June and August expenditure reports.  They were not discussed at all and they have not been posted to the Budget Committee pages. July has also not been posted.
  • Employees salaries by position and name

Some Progress in Transparency

For the first time, the district has published a complete list of its check register which shows each payment to the district’s vendors. This is on the Budget Committee pages.

After my Right to Know lawsuit was filed, the district published a budget detail of teacher salaries without names attached.  Good luck making much sense out of that document, but it is a step in the right direction.

On September 2 the district provided a year to year comparison of actual expenditures in keeping with the budget committee requests.  Normally the budget committee doesn’t get to see the actual year-end expenditures until well into November, well into the budget deliberations and months later than it is needed. The budget committee had to fight for this, but it has been provided. Kudos to the budget committee.

UPDATE:  I’ve been told that the district provided only a pdf file and not a live spreadsheet of the information which the budget committee by majority vote had decided it needed.

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