Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Remember the Empty Chair?

Amelia McKie was absent from the April 9, 2019 meeting of the Richland 2 School Board, but her chair was there and unoccupied for the meeting.

The Executive Session was called to orderat 5:30PM by Lindsay Agostini, who is the Secretary of the School Board. McKie's chair was empty, and I was curious why Mrs. Agostini was calling the meeting to order, rather than Dr. Elkins-Johnson, who is the Vice Chair. The red light on the microphone in front of Mrs. Agostini was on, but her voice was not amplified, and I did not hear all of what she said.

All of Mrs. Agostini's words during the open session should have been captured for the Richland 2 video-recording that will be available on YouTube within a few days. Because the red light of her microphone was off for the end of her remarks, I have some early doubts about their having been recorded.

The Board adjourned, after a short delay, and entered the Executive Session.

At 6:30PM the Board reconvened in open session and the Board's Vice Chair, Dr. Elkins-Johnson, called the meeting to order. McKie's chair was still empty. Superintendent Baron Davis was recognized, and he read a lengthy (and unnecessary, in my opinion) message from McKie about her absence that evening. Supt. Davis leaned forward and spoke directly into his microphone, and his voice was amplified into the room.

He read McKie's assurance that the Board was in good hands and how she knew they'd have a good meeting and how she hadn't missed a meeting in five years on the Board, and her message finished up with "May God bless you all".

Like, give me a break. I looked around for a blowing American Flag and the official Seal of the United States of America and wondered if I was about to hear "Hail to the Chief". It would have completely sufficient for the Vice Chair to read a short statement like "Mrs. McKie is away this evening on personal business."

I was reminded of how the Agenda is set for a meeting. McKie and Supt. Davis create it.

I wondered why McKie's chair remained empty. Perhaps there should have been a spotlight over it. Why didn't someone flip down her nameplate? Why didn't the other board members close ranks and leave an empty chair on the end? Why didn't the Vice Chair sit in the center? I didn't notice on Dr. Elkins-Johnson's nameplate whether it displayed "Chair" for the evening. At the same time I was reminded of Clint Eastwood's speech to the empty chair at the RNC in 2012.

Dr. Elkins-Johnson did a nice job of chairing the meeting. The meeting flowed smoothly from item to item.

The Inspirational Moment lasted far too long - again. Whoever invites the person to give the Inspiration Moment should tell him or her, "Two minutes - max."

Last night's School Focus was on Langford Elementary School, and the students were fantastic! Each spoke to the Board and provided a model for the Board to follow. Each spoke in full voice and clearly. It helped that the staff sound man set up the cordless microphone at the podium, so that their voices were amplified and audible throughout the room.

But that microphone was removed before the Public Participation period, and the two young women who addressed the Board could hardly be heard. I was interested, because each seemed to be presenting information about something that's wrong. More on this, after the video shows up on YouTube in a couple of days.

On the way into the meeting I was asked, "What's new?" My answer was "Lots, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet."

Stay tuned.