Wednesday, June 26, 2019

2019-2020 Officers

At the June 25, 2019 Richland 2 School Board meeting the officers for the next school year were elected. Their terms-of-office are July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. They are

James Manning, Chair
Teresa Holmes, Vice Chair
Cheryl Caution-Parker, Secretary

The length of last night's meeting, chaired for the last time by Amelia McKie, was not a record, but it was 2 hours 17 minutes. That was about 1 hour 17 minutes longer than it should have been.

Monica Elkins-Johnson was not present in person, but she did attend by telephone conference call.

You would think that Richland 2 would figure out how to conduct a meeting when one member so attends. Maybe it will learn from last night.

The volume was so low that most of what Dr. Elkins said could not be heard in the meeting room. I wondered whether even those at the board seats could hear what she was saying. The phone equipment appeared to be one of the high-quality and expensive Polycom desk models, which typically cost $200-$300.

Toward the end of the meeting the volume on the phone got turned down, and it appeared that Dr. Elkins telephoned Amelia McKie to say that she wasn't being heard.

Teleconferencing-in a board member creates a special set of legal circumstances.

A major problem at every board meeting is that attendance is not taken. The record shows up in the Minutes, but only because the note-taker puts it there.

McKie stated that Elkins-Johnson would be attending by telephone hook-up. Such attendance is apparently already anticipated and allowed under Board Policy. But proper procedure would have been to have a Motion to permit Elkins-Johnson to attend by telephone and a vote. Just one of those picky rules that the Board sometimes slides past so conveniently.

It was inexcusable that no procedure was set up to amplify Dr. Elkins' voice, so that she could be heard clearly by all Board members and the public. She brought up some excellent points during discussion of the Policy revisions, and her words were lost in the room. Her long comments also were ignored by several board members, who from time-to-time engaged in side conversations. McKie was observed scanning her cell phone and swiping through screens. This is clearly prohibited by Board policy.

The simplest arrangement would have been an additional microphone by the internal speaker of the Polycom. Another solution would have been to turn the microphone of either McKie or the Superintendent to be closer to the Polycom. But I'll bet that Polycom has a port for a direct connection. After all, why spend $300 for a top-of-the-line piece of electronic equipment and not use all its technology?

Too often during last night's meeting the speaker on the Board did not turn on his/her microphone before speaking. Hopefully, their comments will be audible on the YouTube recording.

The only person at the front of the room to lean forward and speak clearly into the microphone was Teresa Holmes. By doing so, she assures that her voice can be heard throughout the room.

I urge the Board to hire a voice coach,, who will explain that a low, soft monotone does not carry through the microphone into the room. When speakers run their words together or mumble downward or sit well back from the microphone and turn their heads away from the microphone, they cannot be heard in the room. The microphones pick up for the YouTube recording and not for amplification in the room during the meeting, unless the microphone is close to the speaker's mouth. It shouldn't be necessary to wait 2-3 days for the YouTube recording to know everything that was said.

Stay tuned for more on the election and the meeting.