Wednesday, January 8, 2020

1/7/2020 Special-Called Meeting - What a Joke!

The January 7th Special-Called Board Meeting has already been published on YouTube. Kudos to the District staff person who put it online so quickly.

What a joke!

It took 16 minutes just to get the Agenda approved.

The Board desperately needs a Parliamentarian. And I don't mean someone already on the Board. And definitely not an employee.

Amelia McKie missed the meeting, and no explanation was given. No roll call was taken. Six board members and the superintendent sat at the head tables.

After the meeting was called to order, Board Chair James Manning called for a motion to approve the Agenda.

Mrs. Agostini made a motion, and it was to amend the agenda and change Item 3.1 to "New Business - No Action Needed." James Shadd seconded.

Mrs. Agostini opened the discussion by explaining her reasons. 1. She only learned one day earlier what the vote would be on.

At this time Trustees Caution-Parker and Shadd were engaged in a side conversation, leaning behind Trustee Elkins-Johnson's chair. One of the things I've learned in many years of business and meetings is that it is almost impossible to engage in a private conversation and still hear and understand what is being said by a third party. Furthermore, such a conversation may impede the hearing and understanding of the person behind whose back you are talking.

Agostini's second reason for her motion was that such an important issue as Item 3.1 should be addressed in a Regular Meeting, not in a Special Meeting.

When a vote on the motion was called, Trustee Elkins didn't understand what was being voted on. It was like she was lost in space somewhere. Then, even though the vote had been called, she was allowed to ask a question and then amend the motion that was on the floor for a vote.

A Parliamentarian would have called "Point of Order" and gotten the meeting back on track.

A Parliamentarian would have halted the side conversations.

The vote was 3-3, resulting in the motion's failing.

Then Elkins made a motion to postpone the vote on Item 3.1 to the next meeting. It also failed 3-3.

The Chair asked Elkins a question, but she and Shadd were talking again and she didn't hear the Chair's question. After a pause and no response from her, the Chair continued.

The Chair asked again for a motion to approve the Agenda. After an embarrassing pause when no other Board member spoke up to make the motion, Mrs. Agostini saved the day and made a motion to accept the Agenda. Caution-Parker and Supt. Davis were having a side conversation. Then Caution-Parker seconded the motion.

After the vote was called for, which signals the end of discussion, Elkins commented that she had just received the supporting information on which they were to vote, had gotten it on "short notice", and had had no opportunity to go back and review it.

Mrs. Agostyini said she had just received the information the previous day and (only) because she had requested it from the Chair and the superintendent.

Approval of the Agenda passed on a vote of 5-1. Agostini voted No.

2020 did not start with a "premier board" It started with distraction and disorder. It is way past time for the Board to remind Administration that the Board directs, and the Administration carries out. The Board is NOT a rubber-stamp for the Administration. Or at least it should not be.

The Chair said he was "juicing" on Tuesday and had had no solid food that day. He asked the board's forgiveness if he seemed a little "loopy"

From my previous experience in working with people who were "loopy", last night might have been a good time for the Chair to excuse himself, ask the Board Vice-Chair to take over and then go home. Without his "No" vote, both of the previous motions would have passed.

Discuss of Item 3.1 begins at 16:20 on the YouTube recording of the January 7, 2020 Special-Called Meeting.

Am I too hard on the Board? Remember, they are responsible for a $1,Billion operation. The Administration was asking the Board to spend $9,100,000,000 without much thought. The Board must learn to assert itself and not get jammed into hasty decisions.

To be continued.

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