5/26 Meeting Recap
Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I’ve had quite a few people tell me they’ve enjoyed reading it and appreciated the transparency I’m attempting to provide. That makes me very happy! Thank you again.
The Board began the meeting by observing a moment of silence in memory of Louella Howard, a teacher’s aide at Country Oak Elementary for 21 years. Friends and families of LaBelle area retirees packed the board room to see their loved ones being recognized for their faithful service to the Hendry County School District.
Mary Jo Higginbotham, 21 years, LMS typist
Ginger Kisela, 33 years, LES teacher
Linda O’Ferrell, 31 years, LES clerk/typist
Ester Betancur, 16 years, LMS food service employee
Virginia White, 34 years, UES food service worker and bus driver
The Board was fortunate to get to meet UES student, Isiah Asbed, who could easily be considered an academic prodigy, during the meeting as he was recognized by his teachers for his excellence in character and academics. We also had the opportunity to meet and recognize members of the LHS AP Government Class for their impressive academic accomplishments as well.
The Board voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Puletti’s personnel and administrative reappointment recommendations. (You can find that list in the meeting packet at http://hcsb.schoolwires.net/cms/lib8/FL01903259/Centricity/domain/35/packets/5.26.15.pdf ) If you have any questions regarding the Board’s role in regards to personnel appointments, please refer back to an earlier post titled, “The 36K Question.”
The Board got hung up on approving approving new allocations and personnel allocation changes. (You can reference these on pages 16-26 of the board packet.) Superintendent Puletti recommended removing the request for new allocations from the agenda so they he may meet with the Board individually to explain how these new allocations and change in allocations are anticipated to affect student achievement. As a Board Member, I have no problem spending money if I’m confident that it’s going to have a direct positive impact on student achievement but, as a Board Member, it is my job to intensively question whether every dollar we spend lines up with the goal.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, the most important role of the Board is to manage and control the budget. Our district is entering into a third year of operating in a deficit. While we have a committed fund balance that can currently finance that deficit, my concern is continuing to operate in this manner is fiscally irresponsible and will lead the Board down a road that’s inevitably going to require us to have to make tough decisions to eventually reduce the District’s workforce.
During discussion in regards to the consent agenda, I presented questions regarding the District’s cooperative agreements with daycare providers on our two high school campuses. While I understand that by law these are services our district is obligated to provide, I questioned how much they were costing the district, how many students/children are participating, and what they graduation rates of the student participants have been the past few years. These questions were highlighting the possibly of achieving greater success in reducing the county’s teen pregnancy rate and dependency on this seemingly expensive program by taking a proactive approach and considering addressing risky behaviors.
Under the Board Member Business section of the agenda, I brought to light concerns about parents’ immodest dress (that’s an understatement) and inappropriate behavior (another understatement) while on school campus and during school field trips. Frankly, I’ve been taken aback by the lack of discernment in both areas by a handful of parents who find it acceptable to attend and/or chaperone school-related events in attire that not only creates a distraction, but is frankly more suitable for either sleeping, going to the beach, or going to a nightclub. Personally, I’d like to see District guidelines to address expectations for dress and behavior but wasn’t met with a lot of support as the Board’s attorney cited concerns with trying to legislate an opinion of tastefulness. I’d be willing to compromise tastefulness in an attempt to legislate decency.
While we’re on the subject of legislation, I’m happy to report that the president of NEOLA came to speak to the Board about a draft of a contract to provide professional services to assist the Board in addressing our district policies and bringing them up to date. Updating and keeping policies current has the affect of reducing the District’s liabilities. This would be a time-intensive process but one that strengthens the Board’s policy knowledge, and that’s powerful seeing that the Board has had three new members of the course of the past year.
During the capital outlay report, Asst. Superintendent Larry Worth updated me on my request for bids to install video and audio equipment in both board rooms. The Board should expect quotes within the month. While I’m confident that cameras will “add ten pounds” and I’d like to avoid that, I’m also confident they will provide an unparalleled level of transparency during meetings and a more convenient method for taxpayers and parents to engage in the work of the Board…and that’s incredibly important to me.
I’d like to remind my readers that all opinions expressed within this post are my own and I’d like to invite everyone to attend the next Hendry County School Board meeting on Tuesday, June 9, in Clewiston at the sub-office located at 475 E. Osceola Avenue. The meeting will begin at 5:30 pm. All School Board meeting are open to the public. Hope to see you there!!
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as YOUR school board member.