"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Friday, February 28, 2014

Union Forum Went Smoothly

Whew! Four school board activities in a week is a bit much for me. I haven't worked up to the board member endurance level yet, so WOW!

Last Thursday was the 4K Investigative Committee meeting at which we received a preliminary version of the March 12 presentation for input and comment. Monday was the survey presentation by School Perceptions, Wednesday was the school board meeting, where amazing board member Kathi Swanson reminded all present that $300K of the $335K surplus from last year is already spoken for via the phone system, a hundred thousand a year for three years. All the grand schemes presented by the administration for devising a "stipend" system for all employees (carefully avoiding calling it a bonus) was a little premature and could they not spend the surplus more than once? Also, since the CAC will be bringing recommendations to the board on March 12 for referendum, there's that to be considered for some of the surplus, and OH HEY 4KIC will recommend we start that program up to for 200-some thousand initial dollars that very same night. I too am guilty of forgetting about the phone system snafu last year, so all my carefully constructed analysis regarding the referendum stuff is off by a hundred thousand.

Then last night, the EEA invited all six candidates to a Q&A forum at Creekside Place to follow up on a questionnaire they sent to us earlier this month. Last year's election began a new tradition in which the EEA submits questions, hosts a forum for meet, greet 'n follow-up questions and decides who they plan to endorse going forward. Those chosen get a small stipend to spend on election costs. There wasn't as big a turn out as last year, probably because of the blinking cold. Many who were there sounded miserable with upper respiratory ailments and said about half or more of the staff sounded like they did. I asked Julie if they could also host a public forum, but she said taxing entity restrictions prevent them from doing so when they are planning to publicly endorse candidates. That's sad, because I don't think the Review will be able to get somebody to do the "Meet your school board candidates" series this year. Do any of my readers want to host a forum?

There were two follow up questions posed by DJ Redders this year:

1 What have you done first had to get to know how the schools operate?

2 How do you help show that your staff is valued?

A question from Tom Bethke followed those questions after this observation:
The board meetings have gone from a collaborative process to one that seems to focus on penny pinching. What could you do to return to the collaborative process?

These were all outstanding questions and once again, Kathi Swanson hit it out of the ballpark with the last question. "The reason we are stuck in penny pinching mode is because we have no strategic plan, which the board purposely put on hold but now needs to address." Kudos to Ms. Swanson for her laser focus on the most important problem in our district. From her lips to the boards ears!

The rest of our answers to the above questions were fair to middling, but not necessarily earth shaking. I focused on my analytical skills and finance expertise, identified my persistence and willingness to speak my mind and drill down to get answers, but I don't get a sense that the teachers necessarily value financial skills per se, but the overall sense from the teachers was strong appreciation for pointing out to the school board back in November that they need to make sure the district spends their budgets. I hope to get their endorsement!

I'll post the questions asked by the EEA and my answers with the next post.

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