|BOE violates its policy
Policy 1.400 indicates the board will hold workshops on the first Thursday and regular meetings on the second Thursday of the month, unless changed by consensus vote of the board.
The board has been holding the workshop and meeting on the same day.
Loudon County Director of Schools Jason Vance said the violation will happen at least through March until the board returns from its Gatlinburg retreat.
“Some might require more time for board members than others,” Vance said. “I think for those times it might not be inappropriate for them to have multiple meetings, but most of the time they can probably accomplish what they’re doing in the same night between a workshop and a board meeting.”
Vance said some board members may also have other commitments, such as coaching, which would make it difficult to take off multiple times per month.
“With that being said, I’ve heard people criticize the board and say that they’re not doing their due diligence in regard to two meetings,” Vance said. “I would argue that statement and say just to the contrary they’re meeting commensurately amount of time if not more in the fact that they’re doing a workshop.
“We typically feed them in between the workshop and the board meeting and they’ve got the board meeting immediately to follow,” he added. “So they’re certainly commensurate in time. They’re just doing them both in one day.”
Ultimately, Vance said he worked at the discretion of the board.
“I absolutely love the one night a week, but that’s all based on selfishness on my part,” Craig Simon, school board member, said. “... It’s in the best interest of the community to have a week before, as much as I don’t like saying that. I mean I absolutely love having it all in one night but that is just purely out of selfishness.”
Simon said he was in favor of going back to twice a month.
Board members in September considered changing the policy to hold both meetings on the same day, but a vote ultimately failed 5-4.
“At the workshop our purpose is to review all the decisions that need to be made and have the supporting evidence and allow us some time to interact and sharing our thoughts with each other on it, but often you lack the opinion of somebody else,” Gary Ubben, school board member, said. “You’d like to be able to review the documents, the financial stuff for example. Going through it in 10 minutes like we often do in a workshop isn’t time enough for me to go through and assess what the recommendations are.”
Ubben also hopes to hold workshops at each school in the district, which he said would help board members hone in on each location’s needs.
“It’s just one of those things, and Dr. Ubben was right on the money (during the January workshop),” Simon said. “You just don’t have honestly enough time to digest it. The community’s just a little bit — you’re a little bit further disconnected from them than you are already.”
A change in the policy is still undecided, Vance said.
“That’s been kicked around several different times over the past several months,” he said. “I have no idea what direction they might choose.”