Friday, June 6, 2008

Executive Sessions, Part IV

Here is the sum total of the minutes for a special meeting of our School Board held on Saturday, May 17, 2008:


Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Board of Education of the Hilliard City School District held at Hilliard Memorial Middle School on May 17, 2008.

Mr. David Lundregan was appointed to serve as treasurer pro tem.

The meeting was called to order at 9:10 am by President Bobbitt.

Denise Bobbitt Present
David Lundregan Present
Doug Maggied Present
Andy Teater Present
Lisa Whiting Present

83-08 Denise Bobbitt moved and Lisa Whiting seconded that the Board of Education meeting is hereby adjourned. Time: 11:25 am.

While the Board gives us very little information in regard to the reasons for their declared Executive Sessions, I've never seen such blatant disregard on their part before. This was ostensibly a public, albeit special, meeting. There had to be a reason for the meeting and public has the right to know what that was. The minutes of the May 12, 2008 meeting gave no hint that there would be a special meeting on May 17. That wouldn't have helped anyway since the May 12 minutes were published sometime after June 3 - after I complained.

To call this a "Record of Proceedings" is an insult to the community. The only vote recorded for this meeting was on the motion to adjourn. And the meeting lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I've said it literally a hundred times and more - if the Board wants to get a big operating levy passed this year, they must err on the side of overcommunication with the voters.

Our Board seems to be going in the opposite direction.

116 days until absentee voting begins; 151 days to General Election


  1. Good question, Paul. To add to your point about the BOE needing to err on the side of overcommunication, I think Dublin is making a special effort to do this. While flipping channels on TV a few nights ago, I came across a local access cable broadcast about Dublin schools. While I did not watch the entire program, the part I saw featured the Dublin Superintendent "interviewing" the Treasurer about the recent cuts made. They spent about five minutes or so discussing how and why they decided to make each type of cut. Interestingly, as others have mentioned, Dublin managed to cut about the same amount from their budget as we had to, but without cutting ANY teaching positions outright. You can bet that those of us who are Hilliard teachers and parents were fascinated by that fact! Moreover, they discussed the fact that making those cuts now would help the district retain a better credit rating. I don't pretend to understand all the financial aspects, but what interested me most about this broadcast was the fact that clearly, Dublin is attempting to communicate directly with the community in a variety of ways about their decisions. This is smart since they are also putting up a levy this year. I had never seen anything like this on local cable before. Maybe this is an approach our BOE should consider?

  2. Do the Sunshine Laws require the board to notify the public of all meetings beforehand? Is there a procedure for challenging the board or any other public group on the time spent in executive session? The Dispatch loves uncovering violations of Sunshine Laws. Maybe we should just point them to a potential story.

  3. There's an inverse relationship between the scrutiny of the Board and the Board's forthcomingness.

  4. Or at least to provide the audio of the meeting, as does the Olentangy School Board. Or maybe we'd simply get 2 hours of silence, a la Watergate tapes???

  5. Paul,
    I do not belive that this was a BOE executive meeting session. This was the question/answer breakfast meeting (which I was unable to attend) that the public was invited to attend. The reason for the call to order, etc. was due to the fact that all the BOE members were in attendance and that constitutes a "board meeting".

  6. EDJR:

    Of course! My mistake for not remembering the breakfast. Thanks.

    A couple of words in the minutes would have prevented my error. I don't know that this breakfast was actually a 'meeting' as defined by the Sunshine Laws, but I give the Board an 'A' for erring on the side of disclosure.

    But I have to give them a 'D' for effectiveness. Hopefully they will amend the minutes to clarify the record.