Friday, February 25, 2011

Thurber's Thoughts: Public unions' symbiotic relationship with government

Thurber's Thoughts: Public unions' symbiotic relationship with government

I am providing this link because of a specific part of Maggie Thurber's  post, namely:

The problem is the elected officials who too often forget that they're supposed to be doing the exact same thing: getting the best deal for the taxpayers they represent. It's too easy to view the taxpayers as a never-ending source of revenue rather than the employers they actually are.

But the rest of her post is very good, too.

I'm not aware of anyone who ran for a school board position here in recent history seeking union endorsement . . . well, maybe one guy comes to mind . . .

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 2011

Our regular monthly board meeting this month was preceded by a special meeting to discuss preparations for negotiations with the Swanton Education Association (SEA, aka "teachers' union").  That's right!  This year we need to negotiate with the teachers' union on their contract!

The men of the F.A.C.T. group had reviewed our 5 yr. forecast and other financial documents (which are also available to the public), and our executive session that night included a presentation to the Board of their findings and recommendations as related to negotiations.  After they had finished, we continued our discussion and then came out to adjourn our special meeting.

There was a short break, and then our regular meeting was called to order by board president Rick Ueberroth. 

Colleen McQuade was presented with a certificate of appreciation and our signature purple marble apple to recognize her years of service to our district. 

Greg Gettum from TMACOG was present, and he had brought Ed Snyder along to present the district with our membership plaque.  Ed grew up here, and is now raising his family in the Swanton school district.  I know him better from his work in Swanton Township, where I live.  He gave a very nice presentation.

There was no one who indicated a desire to address the board during the time set aside for hearing the public, so we moved on.  At a prior meeting, we had decided to go back to a standard agenda instead of grouping related items into a "consent agenda", which means we now go over each item separately.

The minutes of our organizational meeting and regular meeting from January were both approved, as were the financial reports, transfers, and Class of 2014 budget.  The initial contract for the ESC was also approved for 2012, with an increase in cost of approximately 4%.  

The Personnel recommendations of the Superintendent were presented and approved.  The Board was introduced to our new Head Football Coach, Mr. Phil Witker.  Mr. Witker is a former resident and student of our district. 

The Treasurer had no new business, so we moved immediately into the new business of the Superintendent.  A list of the 2011 High School graduates was presented for our consideration, and we approved the graduates pending completion of all requirements for graduation. 

Mr. Greg Hallett then shared a proposal to build a campus wrestling room South of the new track.  He asked our permission to begin investigating potential donors of time, money and materials for this new building to be donated to our district.  If he is able to bring it all together, he would ask for the district to donate the land on which it may be built.  The Board gave its approval for Mr. Hallett to move forward with his investigation.

Building reports from each principal had been provided ahead of time to the Board, and it is great to read of the progress happening in our buildings. 

Swanton Recreation had no formal report to share.  A question of the expiring lease agreement with the Village was asked, and Kris Oberheim stated that she has been told by Jon Gochenour that he foresees no problem with it being extended when Village Council takes its vote.

A short discussion was held on the progress of the Ohio Improvement Plan, and of the tweaking that took place at the most recent meeting.  Having teachers and administration working so closely together on this plan for our kids is awesome!

Tim Zieroff had provided two examples of random drug testing policies for our consideration and comment, as we work to finalize our own.  He and Steve Smith have done a lot of work on this, and that is deeply appreciated.  

During the time set aside for Board comment, Mr. Ueberroth thought it important to remind us to be careful when speaking about district-related items to anyone in the public, or to the local newspaper(s) as only the Board President speaks officially for the entire board, and thus we must be careful to indicate that our opinions are only our own and not necessarily reflective of the Board itself.   (like I do on this blog - see above, right)

Some suggestions on board committees and members were given to us by Prez Ueberroth as well.

We were also reminded that the newer board members needed to designate a representative for Sunshine Law training once during their tenure.  Chris Woods was so designated, and will attend the required training.  Any Board member may also attend - I did so during my first year on the Board, and learned a lot. 

We then moved into executive session to discuss negotiations and the superintendent's evaluation.  As it turned out, we never got to the second half as President Ueberroth decided the hour was too late.  So we adjourned, with a plan to hold a special meeting for the superintendent's evaluation.  We have been trying for months to get this finalized, and some of us were a bit frustrated that we weren't able to git 'er done that night.  Oh well - I guess we will at our special meeting set for that purpose.