Wednesday, March 29, 2023

$7,000 Annual Training/Travel Allowance

For each Trustee of the school board the District allows $7,000 for training and travel during the School Year, which is July 1 - June 30.

This $7,000 is for each Trustee slot on the Board. What happened last November was that four trustees left the board and four new trustees were elected.

How much of the $7,000 remained when each of the Core Four left the board? That's how much the new trustees have available to spend until June 30, 2023.

The District has had plenty of time to complete the calculations and inform the four new trustees how much each has available.

A FOIA request will be submitted to the District for the amounts spent in each of the four departing trustees accounts for the period July 1, 2022 - November 21, 2022, when the new trustees took office. 

Remember when Baron Davis tried to claim "confidentiality" and initially refused to agree to tell all the trustees how much each one was spending? The next day I filed a FOIA request for that information and I received it. 

Larry Smalls used to address Davis at board meetings as "the King". He nailed it.

Bonus Checks before Spring Break - terrible decision

The following email is being sent to Interim Superintendent Gregory, Dr. Harry Miley, and the Board.

Dear Supt. Gregory,

The Board made a terrible decision last night regarding its demand that the District issue certain bonus checks before Spring Break. Did they not listen to Dr. Miley when he said his department could not produce those checks before Spring Break? 

What was the urgency felt by four of the board members to get some meager funds into the hands of certain hands before Spring Break? No employee will change his/her plans for the Break, based on receiving or not receiving the check one week earlier. And no employee is going to make a career decision based on getting $1,000 extra in April.

I loved Dr. Miley's comment that all the members of his payroll team who were watching last night were probably throwing up.

I hope in the future you'll run interference for your staff and state plainly to the Board that its urgency is unfounded and that it creates an unnecessary and impossible workload on staff to meet its decision, if the team can even do so.

The 3-4 decision on the secondary motion was poorly made. It should have passed.

I hope Dr. Miley doesn't give his two weeks' notice and date it two weeks ago.

Gus Philpott

D.A.R.E. Conference approved for Scott

On the Agenda of last night's board meeting was an item to approve attendance by Vice Chair Scott at an upcoming D.A.R.E. Conference.

One of the reasons for that Item was a really stupid change in Board Policy that the Core Four jammed down the Board's throat last fall just before all four left the Board. A motion was made that the board would have to approve conference attendance for any board member, and the board majority (the departing Core Four) passed it. In effect, the departing Core Four handcuffed the new board.

Dumb; really dumb.

So Monica wants to attend a D.A.R.E. conference. If you watched last night's board meeting, you did not hear any good reasons. She even thinks SROs should attend those conferences; it sounded like she meant at District expense. Well, one SRO, representing RCSD, probably does and brings back the information to RCSD.

Did you notice that no one asked whether Monica had already spent her full $7,000 School Year allowance for training and conferences? Will that expense push her beyond the limit of that allowance? No one asked where or when the conference was or what the District's cost would be.

The Board just passed it. 

SEE the Livestream recording at 3:32:00. 

P-Cards and Richland Two

Richland Two's loose and sloppy P-card controls were addressed by the State Inspector General in his scathing report issued just before Election Day 2022.

The public heard more during the Auditor's Report at last night's board meeting.

Where did the buck stop in Richland Two during the past few years? During the reign of Baron Davis, then-superintendent of the District!

He could have halted the abuses. He could have informed the board of the abuses and errors. Did he ever discuss the problems with any of the Board Chairs, when the Core Four ruled the Board? 

We'll never know, but the problems never got addressed in public at any board meeting.

Of course, recurring expenses, such as utilities and phone bills, should not be paid by P-Cards. Of course, Amazon purchases should be documented with receipts and exactly what was purchased.

Why did Baron allow employees to skirt the system? We'll never know that, either.

Board's insane vote on bonus checks

When a school board has members who are inexperienced in finances of large businesses and don't understand what it takes to make something happen, you get a decision like the one last night to issue bonus checks to some, but not all, employees before spring break.

Dr. Harry Miley, Richland Two's Senior Chief Officer for Finance and Operations, told the full board very clearly why the District could not produce those checks before spring break. As I heard him, the main reason is the need to work with H.R. and determine who gets the checks (and who does not). It's not a case of issuing checks to all employees!

Vice Chair Scott made a motion to issue checks before spring break. Chair Agostini made a secondary motion to issue the checks by April 25; seconded by Trustee Joe Trapp. Lindsay's motion lost 3-4. The three voting FOR that common-sense motion were Agostini, Trapp, and Porter. Those voting against it were Washington, Nash, Scott, and McFadden. Didn't they pay attention to Harry Miley?

Then Scott's motion passed 7-0.

Who heard Dr. Miley and didn't understand him??? What's the board going to do when his department does not meet the spring break deadline set by the board?

When your world experience with finances is writing checks monthly from your personal checkbook, it's hard to grasp what happens in the world of big business - the Richland Two school district. 

If I were Harry Miley, I'd either be holding my breath and hoping the Board hires the right full-time Superintendent or I'd be looking for a new job.

Lessons from Nashville

What can be learned from the horrendous shootings in Nashville at the Christian school?

First of all, if you are an untrained, unarmed, school employee, you don't run toward the shots.

Second, in view of reports that the shooter may have had mental illness, why did he (err, "she") still access to firearms?

Mental health therapists are reluctant to red-flag clients, because they fear the consequences of HIPAA. You know, that "patient confidentiality" thing.

Should school staff and teachers have the authority to arm themselves?

At the very first Richland 2 school board meeting I attended, on February 27, 2018 (two weeks after the shootings in Parkland, Florida), I urged the board to conduct a survey of parents, teachers, staff and community members on the topic of arming teachers.

Just as Lindsay Agostini explained last night to speakers, then-Chair Craig Plank said the board would not respond but a staff member would follow up.

When none did, I kept pestering until Baron Davis did call me and told me they would be no survey. Of course, I immediately recognized that the board had never considered my request. Baron Davis turned it down.

Richland 2 has been lucky. I'll tell you - all steps have NOT been taken to reduce the possibility of an in-school shooting. Every school administrator knows who is likely to be "a shooter", but they can't point fingers. They'll get accused of profiling.

Well, what do you want? An accusation of profiling or some dead kids and teachers?