I live streamed last night’s meeting anticipating the discussion on the Superintendents performance. The board must have had legitimate reasons for pulling the agenda item, as we are not privy to the executive session discussions. That said, in my opinion, the board majority seems to be doing the best they can under one of the worst conditions that the District has ever been in. I see them trying to clean up some extremely harmful decisions that the previous majority board members instituted. Decisions that frankly need to be revisited and fixed.
If one really looks closely at the performance of both Ms. Grijalva and Ms. Foster after becoming the minority on the board one could make a compelling argument that they are desperately trying to hold on to the power that they enjoyed while on the majority. Unfortunately their tactics, arguments and reasons for opposing change are no match for the new majority. Politics aside, what actions and or questions that the new majority has so far delved into hasn’t made sense? It is obvious that Ms. Sedgwick reads and is very well prepared while asking for information and stating her positions. Whether one wants to accept it or not the fact is that, Dr. Stegeman has a world of experience and his arguments are certainly foods for thought. Whether Mr. Hicks has higher political aspirations or not I view him as trying to be as fair and as professional as he can as Chair of the board. Given the toxic environment that exists on the board one has to appreciate and applaud his performance.
Seriously, public education in the national, state and local levels is suffering; one of the leading reasons is the exodus of good educators from the industry. There are committees, groups, think tanks, etc. wrestling with the question of how can we recruit and retain teachers. Supposedly how can we fix this huge problem when we don’t have the documented reasons for the cause of this problem?
Ms. Sedgwick’s query into exit interviews makes a lot of sense, yet I heard pushback from the district including the lead counsel that we can’t get into personal situations, that it might be illegal or so. We understand that, so get the well paid district experts in a group and figure out how to do that, that’s what they get paid for (and in some cases extremely well paid).
The issue of the need for longer and/or multiple meetings brought out some interesting counter conversations/arguments. The most telling were the ones that alluded that it was too time consuming for the board members. My answer to that is you chose to run for that post and in order to perform your due diligence one needs to spend as much time as necessary to perform same. The other argument that exposes the ignorance of certain board members was the more meetings the board has the more burdens are placed on district employees that need to be at those meetings. It is obvious that the person that brought up this argument does not know classification and compensation in employment and what this means. With the exception of the technical staff support i.e. note taking, IT support etc., staff that logically need to be there are the highly salaried exempt personnel, i.e. HR, Finance, Deseg, etc. Directors, very handsomely compensated. Extra and or regularly identified activities are part of their job requirement thus not considered as overtime. For a board member to even bring this up as a reason not to consider spending more time than regular meetings tells you the level of incompetence that exists on the board. I could understand if they would examine the amount of time it takes a teacher to do her/his job and question whether they get overtime for all the extra time they put in and/or get compensated for all the out-of pocket expenses they spend in order to do their job.
Finally I would like to congratulate whoever it was that brought up the agenda item that was eventually pulled because whether we like it or not the board and the public need to recognize and bring to the table to discuss “the elephant in the room”. If the superintendent is not relieved of his duties, for legal and/or economic reasons then I strongly suggest that during the remaining time in his contract he is given clear direction on what this board needs and wants and hold him responsible and accountable. Document this very, very carefully and when he leaves he gets a truly honest evaluation of his performance, good or bad. The man works for the board, the board represent their constituents.
When everything is said and done, I believe that our present board majority is doing what is best for students under very trying and difficult times. Don’t get discouraged it is very easy to convince ignorant messengers to carry water for cowards that might have their agendas exposed.