Hello everyone! I’m excited to start on this school board journey with you. I plan on providing a follow-up summary of each board meeting to try and help provide transparency for my decisions while on the board. All of the views, opinions and decisions in these summaries are my own. Let’s jump right into this.
January 10th was the first board meeting of the year and was actually three meetings in one. The first meeting was an organizational meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to elect the new president and vice-president as well as assign the members to their committees for the year, as well as approve some of the general spending and authorizations that are needed every year. This meeting is well outlined and established by federal, state, and local laws and bylaws. After the results of the election in November and the need to represent the desires of the public that elected us I thought it would be appropriate to have a single break from tradition and elect myself as president and Mary as my vice-president. I think the public wanted a clean break and to start off with a fresh slate. I also think that in the end all of will be able to work together to provide the best for the community. It’s also important to note that the president of the school board really is not any more powerful than any other member of the board and we can only make decisions as a whole.
The second meeting was a tax budget meeting. Again this meeting is well scripted and established, therefore it generally is a very quick meeting as well. We voted to approve the tax budget for next year as it all seemed in line with past budgets. I do plan on taking some deeper dives into the expenditures of the school in the near future.
The third meeting was the regular board meeting. We had a few people get up to address the board, which I appreciated. I think it is vital that the community is actively engaged with the school. That is the only way we will see true progress. We then voted to approve the Superintendents consent agenda. The things in this agenda are supposed to be items that are regularly voted on and generally non-controversial. Most of the consent agenda is usually resignations and hiring of new personnel. I asked to have our donations and a new contract pulled out of the consent vote. I wanted to bring up the donations so that the people that donate can be publically recognized and thanked for their donations. Their donations are a huge benefit to our schools, teachers, students, and community. I pulled out the new contract to draw attention to the fact that the contract has a minimum cost but no maximum cost. It is not unusual for a school contract to be made with no maximum cost because often times the amount of services to be used is not yet known. This particular company has a good track record of keeping us informed of costs and not surprising us with much higher costs in the end. I wanted to make people aware of this and to make sure that we do our due diligence in keeping track of costs like these so we don’t end up overspending. The other major topic from the regular meeting was the discussion on masks. I asked to have the topic added to the agenda a few days before the meeting to fulfill the promise I made to voters and start the discussion on how we use a scalpel rather than a hammer to address the COVID issues. My main purpose of proposing this topic was to start a discussion. As far as I am aware there had never really been a discussion about when we were going to end mandatory masking policy (not banning masks, if you still want to wear a mask you are more than welcome to). I felt it was time to discuss and end date and move on from the indefinite mandate. I know that the current COVID numbers and climate were peaking, but I also felt parents were ready to have some definitive answers. I was met with immediate opposition to both a removal of the mandate as well as allowing parents an opportunity to apply for exemptions again. September was a long time ago and much has changed since. When we were originally told we were going to mandatory masks with possible exemptions we were also told it would be for 3 weeks and then readdressed. I wanted to at the very least provide parents with another opportunity if they had changed their minds from September. I voted (and we decided 3-2) to open the exemptions again and we set the next board meeting as a date to have a further discussion on going to mask optional. There is a significant amount of data and scientific analysis to support this and I plan to present it at the next meeting. I think this is a step in the right direction and a win for parents. One of the biggest reasons I decided not to push to mask optional until the next meeting was because I wanted to provide ample time for us to come up with a plan on how we continue to follow Health Department guidelines, provide for the safety of everyone in our schools, and give parents back their freedom to choose. We will have that plan at the next board meeting. One of the things we did not address at this board meeting was the bullying issue. With so much to do we frankly ran out of time. I will be following up with the Superintendent between now and the next meeting to see what we can do and we will definitely have a report at the next meeting.
Overall I thought this was a good meeting and I recognize there will be a learning curve as I figure out the best way to lead the board going forward. We have many goals to undertake and the school is like a cruise ship, it doesn’t turn immediately, but we are cranking full steam ahead to make the necessary changes and provide the best education possible for our students.
Please send me any comments, concerns, feedback, or questions you may have. I serve you and I am here to represent you to the best of my abilities.