I was unable to attend the July 18 School Board meeting, yet have had the opportunity to speak to various stakeholders related to the Action Items which the board approved, specifically O 7 Governing Board Compensation Increase.
This item came forward at the end of the July 18 meeting, a quiet period of summer when many are out of town and disengaged from school business.
I learned that after unanimously passing Action Items O 3 to O 6, related to salary step advancement for the Superintendent and 3 Assistant Superintendents, the board voted 4-1 with Member Farnbach dissenting, for approval on a 5% stipend increase effective July 1.
I was surprised and anxious to learn more since at the previous meeting June 27th, which I attended, the board voted 3-2 No on the same item with a majority of Farnbach, Hill, and Rutz-Robbins carrying the majority.
What caused the board to hurriedly place the item on the agenda for the next meeting and reverse course and why am I concerned?
First and foremost, the board should trust and respect the democratic process. especially its own. If the board had not had enough time to reflect on the action item by June 27th, it should have been removed from the agenda, or tabled rather than negate a vote with a “Do Over” July 18.
Second, some found it suspicious that the item was approved the same night that the cabinet received their step increase. Some believe the board is perpetuating a “corporate culture” where even in challenging fiscal times those in the highest status positions are continually rewarded financially.
Additionally, troubling to me was the board’s reported rationale which included that the previous stipend amount would not cover the member monthly contribution to the most expensive PPO Plan. I have a solution: Choose another insurance plan.
Another point reportedly discussed by the trustees was that it was their custody to make board seats attractive to possible candidates in November 2018. I contend it is not the board’s duty to attract and retain fellow board members, but instead the civic responsibility of district voters to participate as candidates.
I hope this board will honor their own deliberations and process going forward rather than expediently hurrying a voted upon item back to the agenda to apparently achieve a desired result.