Monday, July 7, 2008

LCSD School Board

For the first time in a few months, I went to an LCSD school board meeting tonight. With the resignation of Sherrie Sprenger and the need for a new chair, I figured there could be fireworks.

I am glad to say I was mostly wrong. Mostly.

The rundown:

The first order of business was to nominate a new chair. Unsurprisingly, Josh Wineteer was nominated. The vote was unanimous - though how Josh managed to vote on his ascension to chair I don't know. Incidentally, I am not surprised by this outcome. I'm not particularly happy about it, but given the people on the board, it was predictable.

What was slightly less predictable was Chris Fisher turning down the nomination for Vice Chair. That position ended up in the hands of Rick Alexander - and, ironically, the motion to make Alexander Vice Chair was seconded by Chris, to the amusement of the audience. Wineteer, interestingly, also voted on this.

The audience comments section had two things of note: The first was a very angry parent who noticed that the program for the 2008 graduation was very poorly done, full of spelling errors, info from 2007, and missing lots of people from 2008. She castigated almost everyone except Jim Robinson, who she said handled it very well. She was particularly critical of Mark Finch for blowing her off, and also claimed the board needed to pay more attention to LHS. I think the regular attendees in the audience were bemused. She was also very, very nervous; it was clearly hard for her to speak in front of everyone.

Upset Parent (who I think is classified staff at Seven Oak) did say one thing I thought was particularly interesting. She said, in regards to LHS, "It's almost like the good kids are overlooked in favor of the bad kids." I don't know enough to know how true this is, but it doesn't strike me as a totally implausible claim.

The second was Lyndon Brown, who asked a question I didn't quite hear or understand - something about asking if the LCSD was going to use their money to pay legal fees for the 2005 ethics complaint against Brad (or was it Nancy?) Bauer. Like I said, I didn't quite hear or understand it.

At 7:12 PM - 12 minutes into the meeting, counting the flag salute - Rick Alexander interrupted the approval of the consent agenda and asked if someone could prepare a document outlining the cost and options regarding a buyout of Superintendent Jim Robinson. Wineteer noted that he had already asked for a legal brief on the matter and would forward it to the board when it was ready.

Alexander then asked for a special meeting, before the next meeting, to get the process started. His reasoning? He didn't want the incoming board member to have to "take sides" on the issue of Robinson. My reading? He is afraid that a new board member will work against a Robinson buyout, and that his best chance is to ram it through before then, with only Chris Fisher as opposition. Fisher, to his credit, noted that making a decision of that magnitude with only four members would deprive everyone in Sprenger's district of representation, which he used as a reason to wait until there was a fifth board member.

Two other thoughts on this: I really hope Shimmin doesn't automatically go along with a buyout, but makes Alexander and Wineteer prove their case in public. She indicated her opposition to Plan Buyout in firm terms, which was nice. Second, I don't know a lot about buyouts, but I would think that Robinson would have to agree to have his contract bought out. Has anyone asked him if he wants to leave the district? He's given no sign thus far that that might be the case.

In any case, it was stupid, predictable (Alexander even insinuated during the meeting it was in response to the Bar complaint against Jackson that has been filed by Robinson), and Wineteer had the good sense to request some expert advice and not let Alexander charge forward.

Moving on.

During the first part of the Superintendent's Report, Steve Kelley was outlining a few problems he's had getting information from Jay Jackson. This was when Alexander got visibly upset at the fact that Robinson filed a complaint with the Oregon Bar Association against Jackson, asking Kelley if he thought Jackson could even communicate directly with Kelley without having another complaint filed against him. Robinson and Kelley both explained, relatively calmly, that the two situations were completely different, and that no one was going to file a complaint with the Bar if Jackson actually gave the LCSD information.

Kelley then announced something I want to reproduce here: That the semifinalists for the Riverview Principal position will be on display on Monday, July 21st at 6 PM at Riverview School, and that everyone is invited to go meet them.

The last item under the Superintendent's Report was a request from Robinson to get some guidance on what type of policy review to ask for from the OSBA (or was it ODE?). The board actually made a rational, well-reasoned decision, on this one. The fact that Alexander didn't say much during the discussion is, I'm sure, completely coincidental.

Thus ended the Superintendent's Report.

I am tired, and lazy, and the rest will have to wait until tomorrow. The next post could cover the possibility of a Construction Excise Tax, the presentation of the work done by the Buildings and Boundaries Committee, and the extent to which Rick Alexander continued to display a complete lack of understanding of how the world works (much less something as prosaic as, I don't know, a school district).

Let's put it this way: By 7:16 PM, I had written "Blood Pressure: 200/140" in the margin of my notepad.


IE said...

And my blood pressure at board meetings is, of course, why I don't attend.

Someone my spouse knows once said she would rather slam her fingers in her car door than attend a school board meeting: A sad but real state of affairs for many of us.

Though the issues that raise your pressure, RW, are clearly different from the issues that raise mine around school board and district issues.

I am not at all surprised Chris didn't want to be the board vice-chair. He seems to be generally a Robinson follower and a complainer/hand-wringer, rather than a leader comfortable with conflict, taking decisive action. and being unpopular.

Dennis said...

IE, that's a bit of a jump - there is no evidence that Chris refused the Vice Chair position for those reasons.

Anonymous said...

IE if you have nothing nice to say don't say it all. You are full of hatred and malice. I would rather slam my fingers in my door car than reading your rubbish..

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the fact that the board meetings make us so uncomfortable is the very reason we SHOULD attend them.

Anonymous said...

Woah! Anon today at 12:23 -- YOU seem to be the one filled with hatred and malice! Touchy!!

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