Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Board Meeting

The school board convened last night for our regular monthly meeting.  All five board members were in attendance.

After the usual preliminaries, board president Mona Dyke presented commendations to several staff members and teachers, to recognize either commendable action in an emergency or years of service.  I have to say that the long list of teachers with 15 and 20 years at Swanton certainly don't look old enough to have that much time in here!

We also presented a special commendation to the staff of our Middle School for their school having obtained an "Excellent" rating on the most recent state report card.  Good job, everyone!

We approved the list of "transportation in lieu" under New Business of the treasurer.  This refers to our responsibility under state law to provide transportation of all school age children if we use buses.  Parents who transport their children to private schools are eligible to receive money toward that transportation, and once they complete the appropriate request form and meet all eligibility criteria, we issue them a check.  Some districts have a bus run to particular parochial schools in their area, so they are not required to reimburse parents.  My grandson attends Monclova Christian Academy, and there is a bus from Sylvania that brings kids.  Swanton does not provide bus service to private schools, and thus we must reimburse those who qualify for, and request it. 

A short discussion was held on the upcoming deadline for the October filing of our 5 year forecast.  Treasurer Cheryl Swisher will prepare all necessary spreadsheets and accompanying notes and we will have a chance to examine them in detail at a special meeting scheduled for October 12th.  Our vote on the forecast will be taken at our regular October meeting on the 19th. 

The treasurer then asked our approval to change our method of accounting/reporting from GAAP to OCBOA, which is estimated to save us between $5,000 and $7,000 this year and possibly $10,000 in future years.  The same information is reported, but by a different format - essentially placing us into a Cash Accounting method.  A lot of our neighboring districts have moved to this format to save costs as well.  It was a simple decision for this to pass unanimously.

At this point, the board went into executive session to discuss employee employment.  Upon our return, we approved the Lucas Co. ESC Agreement for this school year, as well as a slight revision to Board Policy 1320.  In addition, we approved a job description for the position of Recreation Coordinator that had been prepared by members of the Swanton Rec Program, and a revision to the job description of Bus Mechanic.

The next item on the agenda was a recommendation by the Superintendent to approve the administrator contracts for Steve Gfell and then Steve Smith.  Here we had an unusual situation.  Some board members wanted additional time to consider the contracts.  To table the item would require that the vote be taken at the next board meeting, and these board members weren't certain that would be enough time.  Instead, an obscure procedure in Roberts' Rules was used to "postpone" the motion no later than January 2011.  That allows the motion to be visited any time between now and then, but does not require a vote at a particular meeting. 

This was done once for each contract presented.  For the first roll call, I voted "yes" to postpone - but not because I felt it necessary to have more time to consider the contract.  Having served on the board for almost 3 years now, I trusted the Superintendent's recommendation as it was presented, and I have also been able to observe Mr. Gfell and Mr. Smith and their positive momentum at the high school.   Extending their contracts now made perfect sense to me.  However, I knew that other board members - although apologetic over causing the delay - were insistent that a postponement was important to them.  All other board members also voted "yes" to postpone, except for Mona Dyke.  Her "no" vote was intended to show her desire to extend their contracts now - and it made me think that my "yes" vote had given the wrong impression.  When the vote came on the contract for Mr. Smith, I hesitated  - at this point, I was afraid if I voted "no" it would appear that I held differing opinions on each of the contracts or men, which was not the case.  So I again voted "yes" to postpone, as did everyone except Mona.  Our votes on both contracts were thus consistent, but I still feel that I gave the wrong impression and that bothers me.

Therefore, I state here for all to see that I have the utmost confidence and respect for Mr. Gfell and Mr. Smith, and that extending their contracts at Swanton is appropriate and an important, positive thing for our kids.  When the contracts come up for a vote again, we will have no further delays.

Our next item on the agenda was yet another legal mandate that came with no funding to implement it.  They do that a lot, frankly:  make laws that require school districts to do various things but make no provision to provide the funding required to comply.  We voted to request a waiver on this one at this time, as have other districts.

A proposal from the Middle School was presented on taking the 8th grade class to Washington D.C. on a weekend in May 2011.  All we were asked to do was grant permission to them to convene a parents' meeting to see if there is sufficient interest from them to take this trip.  This we did, unanimously.

Committee reports came next on the agenda.  A short report on the Swanton Rec program was given, along with a quick update on Strategic Planning.  No official report from those of us working on the drug policy could be given, as we are waiting for the results of last May's survey to be tabulated and sent over by SACC  Heather Wegener.  Her husband (Deacon Dzierzawski, Village Council ) happened to stop by the Board Office on another matter earlier that day, and said that the results had just come in.  Hopefully that means the results will be provided to us soon, so that we may move forward. 

A time for board member comments was allowed, and after another - short - executive session, we were adjourned at 10:10 p.m.

No comments: