Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Cancellation of the July 22, 2013 Board Meeting Due to a Lack of Quorum is Completely Irresponsible In Light of Pending District Business

The July 22 Board Meeting -- the only board meeting scheduled in July -- has been cancelled.  Nothing was posted by the Administration or Board of Education regarding this cancellation on Board Docs.  The only "notice" given was on the D181 website homepage under the "calendar" of events.  No reason was given there either, however, we have learned that the meeting was cancelled due to a "lack of quorum."

Lack of quorum means that a majority of a board cannot attend a meeting, and without a majority, no business can be conducted.  In this case, that means that at least 4 of the 7 D181 Board members were not going to attend the July 22nd meeting.

Perhaps the Administration was also not ready for the meeting because Dr. Schuster just returned from a nearly 3 week vacation.  It would be transparent and appropriate for both the Board and Administration to provide an explanation to the community of the reasons for this cancellation.

The cancellation of this meeting is particularly disappointing because
many important items were scheduled for discussion (per Dr. Schuster's June 24 Superintendent's Report):

-- Public Comment
-- Succession of Authority Plan for 2013-2014
-- Community Engagement and Survey Planning
-- Policy Revision Planning
-- Planning for Superintendent's Evaluation
-- Release of Closed Session Minutes and Destruction of Closed Session Meeting Tapes
-- Intergovernmental Agreements for Safe Schools Program.

In addition, as of the writing of this post there are currently 17 job vacancies posted on the D181 Employment Tab on the D181 Website.  The following staff need to be approved by the Board prior to the start of the school year:

-- 8 teaching positions:  1 .5 FTE kindergarten teacher, 2 full time 4th grade teachers, 2 full time 3rd grade teachers,  1 full time Differentiation Specialist, 1 .25 FTE Math, 1 RTI tutor.
-- 1 instructional assistant
-- 1 custodian
-- 1 long term middle school substitute teacher
-- 2 secretaries
-- 3 speech pathologist positions
-- 1 help desk technician

Is it really true that with only 33 days until the start of school, D181 has still not hired the replacement teachers?  Don't they need time to be oriented and prepare to teach in a new district?  The next Board meeting is not scheduled until the night of August 12, which will leave the new teachers only 10 days to get ready.  In a district of D181's caliber, such delay is unacceptable!  Is D181 having trouble attracting teacher hires when everyone knows there are hundreds of teachers who have applied in the past year for the few openings it had, or does Dr. Schuster feel that she does not need to bring such hires to the Board for approval in a timely manner?

With three new members on the board, the first few months of meetings are important for them to attend in order to get up to speed on everything going on in the district.  For all board members, it is important to fulfill their commitment to the community to be present at meetings -- since meetings are the only time they can conduct business without violating the Open Meetings Act.

Putting aside the fact that at least 4 board members did not see fit to make themselves available -- perhaps they were on "vacation" or perhaps had more "work" conflicts --  canceling the only meeting in July, without rescheduling it to a later date, is completely irresponsible.

With this cancellation,  all 7 board members are being marked as "absent" on our attendance page.  For Mr. Nelson, this means, he has now missed 8 out of 16 meetings -- 50%,  only been physically present for 7 and attended one by phone.  Shame on you, Mr. Nelson.

It seems that not only does the Administration feel it can "slow down" during the summer -- let's remember that Dr. Schuster insisted, and the Board approved that the Administration could operate on only a 4 day summer work week schedule through the start of August -- but now at least 4 Board members also feel they can cavalierly cancel one of only 2 meetings left before the start of school, while important decisions that will directly impact our children need to be made.  We expect more from  both the Board and Dr. Schuster.  If they can't do their jobs as scheduled, or in a timely manner, it's time for some changes.

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