Wednesday, April 24, 2019

TONIGHT! 6:30PM. Cell Tower public meeting

Sorry for the late announcement. Just learned of this meeting, thanks to publication on the Facebook page of The Voice of Blythewood and Fairfield County.

Milestone Communications wants to build a 195' cell phone tower ON THE GROUNDS of Kelly Mill Middle School. Recently a parent addressed the Richland 2 School Board about this, but do you think there was any publication by Richland 2 of this meeting?

No doubt Richland 2 sees this tower as a money-maker. There would be a long-term lease involved and important legal protections in the agreement.

The meeting is tonight, April 24, 2019, at 6:30PM at R2i2.

For more information, visit  The meeting announcement on this website says the meeting is at 6831 Brookfield Road.

The Voice believes the meeting at R2i2, as of 5:15PM.

22 Policy Revisions - too many

At last night's Special Board Meeting (4/23/19) revisions to 22 Board Policies were considered. Why so many?

When you look closely at the structure of Richland 2, I swear you'd think you were looking at the Federal Government.

Hopefully, the meeting was video-recorded, so that voters, taxpayers and parents (and teachers and staff and students) can review "your government" at work. Audio quality can be expected to be considerably better than in the room.

For a little background regarding the revisions to board policies, watch the video of the April 9, 2019 meeting, starting at 1:06:30, when Item 13 on that meeting's Agenda was addressed. Item 13 included eight proposed policy revisions. Even though the Board had the list and contents, Supt. Davis took the time to read each one into the record.

The Acting Chair of the meeting, Vice Chair Elkins- Johnson, proposed that the board examine one policy at a time. When discussion was called for the first revision, Trustee Lindsay Agostini (1:07:39) questioned the District's expectation of  a compensation package sufficient to attract "highly-qualified employees" for the premier district in exchange for "adequate" compensation. She suggested there ought to be a (better) balance between expectation and compensation.

To me, that is a very reasonable position. But did any Board member jump into the fray and further challenge the wording in the proposed revision?

Supt. Davis commented that the language came from the School Board Association. That doesn't mean it can't be modified, adjusted, amended, edited, or tinkered with to suit the exact needs and desires of the Richland 2 Board. When Vice Chair Elkins-Johnson asked Supt. Davis if the language could be changed (of course it can), and does he (the superintendent (the staff)) have the "time to do that", he paused and then, somewhat hesitantly, said they could go back and re-visit the language, if that was the "will of the board". Of course he could do that and, of course, he does have the time (or he'd better make the time).

Wait a minute! It's the staff that is proposing the revision. They work for the superintendent. Of course, they can go back and make changes. It doesn't take the "will of the board"; it takes the will of the superintendent.

The Vice Chair looked around the board and asked if it was the will of the board. Well, the way you find out if it's the will of the board is to vote on it. Only Trustee Caution-Parker spoke about it and indicated it wasn't her will. The Vice Chair failed to poll the rest of the rest and assumed it was not the will of the board.

Then Trustee Agostini commented (1:09:45) on the second-to-the-last bullet point in the first revision - "to develop a climate necessary to obtain maximum staff performance and a high level of morale and job satisfaction." She suggested replacing "necessary to obtain" with "to develop a climate which encourages maximum staff performance and a high level of morale and job satisfaction."

Trustee Shadd asked Mrs. Agostini what she sees as the difference. She responded that she was looking for a positive word representing something they are working toward.

The Superintendent effectively squelched Mrs. Agostini's suggestions and got away with it, saying they had a number of policy revision to get through before the end of the school year and, in other words, she shouldn't be so picky with her "warm and fuzzy" suggestions. The superintendent sees himself as a "member" of the board when, in fact, he is not. He is the administrator of the school district - the "hired gun". He works for the Board; he is not on the Board.

Due to overall weakness on the Board itself, the superintendent has been able to raise his influence on the board. The board would benefit by hiring a consultant to explain to them exactly how they should function as elected representatives of the people of Richland School District Two.

While the superintendent is hired to run the district, he does so at the direction (and pleasure) of the board (albeit with a fat and secure contract, I'm sure, that protects him financially, if he encounters the displeasure of the board).

Mrs. Agostini wasn't raising "just" grammatical points. Her points went straight to the heart of the policy. They did relate to content!

Then Mr. Shadd felt he had to jump on the anti-Agostini bandwagon and make a comment about "necessary" and putting the onus on the District to make darn well sure it created such a climate. Is this kicking and shoving versus leading and pulling?

When you watch the video, you'll see Supt. Davis sitting up straight as Mr. Shadd spoke, and you'll see Trustee Caution-Parker having a side conversation with the Vice Chair while Shadd was speaking.

In some cultures there is a motto that reads, "The beatings will continue until morale improves." It seems to me that Mrs. Agostini was trying to avoid that pathway.

OK, so then what happens if/when the policy requirement is not met? Who gets caught in the crosshairs? The staff? The superintendent? The Board? Who is accountable?

Mrs. Agostini then correctly stated that it is the Board's responsibility to write the policy, whether it's the content or the grammar. She reminded the Board that it is the Board's responsibility. Bam! I agree.

Again, there was no vote to determine the will of the board. The Vice Chair just assumed that, because no one spoke up, it was not the majority and not the will of the board. And that was wrong.