The following narrative encapsulates much of the objectionable political dynamics at Timberlane. It comes replete with a superintendent indulging in demeaning and bullying behavior towards an elected official who is his superior while being factually mistaken, an irresponsible board that votes on the district’s most expensive contract without even reading it, and includes an illegal non-public to round things out. Please understand the following is not a criticism of the TTA contract, which I support.
At the school budget public hearing on Jan. 14, 2016, I questioned an announced benefit in the new teachers’ contract that I did not recall from the negotiating sessions and which I, a member of the negotiating committee, believed was not part of the new contract. (The superintendent was present, as was I, through the negotiations.)
Here is the discussion. The superintendent’s disrespectful response to my query begins at 5 minutes into this clip, though the entire clip is instructive for later developments.
Next month at Deliberative, the sick day buyout increase was not mentioned so I asked after that aspect of the contract again. This time I got a very different answer.
Both these meetings took place subsequent to a very interesting episode during the Dec. 17, 2015 school board meeting where my refusal to vote on a contract whose final version I had not seen in print caused the board to go into a paroxysm where Mrs. Steenson said “We’ll have to talk to the attorney,” and Dr. Metzler said, “We have to call a non-public under legal.”
Just so you know, there is no provision under the law to go into non-public to discuss the legal ramifications of a board member’s vote on a public contract. The subsequent non-public was entirely illegal. During that non-public I was given the final mark-ups of the contract changes. You will note that when we emerged from non-public Mr. Blair corrected the information he had previously given the board concerning the insurance premium sharing arrangement. To his enormous credit, Mr. Blair did all of this from memory because of his sight impairment and I do not fault him for this error. I do fault the board as a whole for the irresponsibility of voting for the district’s largest contract without seeing the final written contract – and for allowing my concerns about accuracy to be derided by the superintendent.
Here is what transpired once we came out of non-public on that unusual night of Dec. 17:
In no way do I wish to imply that there is anything wrong in the teachers’ contract and unworthy of your vote. I was on the negotiating committee and I support the contract. My objective here is simply to point out how conscientious is your school board, how committed to accuracy is your superintendent – and the pressure put on a conscientious member of the board.
Mr. Blair was chairman of the negotiating committee. The other school board members included myself, Mrs. Steenson and Greg Spero. Mr. Blair is leaving the board and I will miss him.
Dr. Metzler is now Tweeting from a superintendent’s conference in Arizona.