Monday, April 13, 2015

Important matters to be decided at Tuesday’s School Board meeting

In this post I’ll share some of the agenda items to be addressed at this Tuesday’s (April 14) School Board meeting at the Everglades City School in Everglades City. I hope the Board will work efficiently and cooperatively to reach consensus on each item.

Board Bylaws and Policy Changes

These are some of the Board bylaws and policies that will be read for the second time at Tuesday’s meeting. Click each title to open the proposed item to be discussed. If no substantive changes result from Board discussion, the items will be voted on by the Board.

Board Bylaws 0160 - Meetings
The proposed change addresses the controversy that arose at prior Board meetings when new Board members Erika Donalds and Kelly Lichter sought to place items on a Board meeting agenda that did not necessarily have the support of the Superintendent or Board Chair.

It also addresses past controversy over public participation at Board meetings. As proposed, the Bylaws would allow comments that are personally directed at individual Board members or the Superintendent. The change is the result of the settlement last month of a lawsuit, Bracci v School Board, brought by parent-attorney Steven J. Bracci. See Naples Daily News story here.

Policy 2240 - Controversial Issues
The proposed change addresses the Barron Collier Choir matter that was the subject of much controversy last year. See my prior posts “Support the School District’s Compromise” and “Tuesday” for background. While the change addresses co-curricular performances held at a religious venue, it does not address choral programming that contains religious content.

Policy 5830 - Student Fund-Raising
The proposed change addresses the sale of food items that don’t meet USDA school nutrition standards. See Naples Daily News story here.

Bylaws 1010 - Board-Superintendent Relationship
The proposed change addresses how suggestions for new Board or District policies and revisions to existing policies are to be handled, and provides for public input on whether suggestions merit further study. As proposed, only “If the Board believes, as a matter of consensus, any such suggestion merits further study” will an item move forward. This was one of several much-debated topics discussed at the facilitated Special Board Meeting last month. See Naples Daily News story here.

New Business

Charter Schools
This agenda item results from a complaint by parents at three of Collier County’s publicly-funded charter schools (Mason Classical Academy (MCA), Gulf Coast Academy and Marco Island Charter Middle School), according to a Naples Daily News article. According to the article, “charter operators and parents say their schools stay open by pinching pennies and are asking the school board to lower the fee, or get rid of it altogether.”

Collier School Board member Kelly Lichter is president of Mason Classical Academy; Board member Erika Donalds served as an advisory board member for MCA and at least one of her children attends that school, and Donalds’ husband Byron Donalds serves as MCA’s vice president.

It will be interesting to see if Ms. Donalds and Ms. Lichter recuse themselves from a vote on this matter in view of their involvement with Mason Classical Academy.

Not on the agenda but could come up: public comment on the election of Kathleen Curatolo as Board Chair

According to minutes of the March 10 School Board meeting:
To resolve the controversy that arose at the November 17, 2014, Organizational Meeting the Board agrees to provide an opportunity for [parent-attorney-litigant Steven J.] Bracci and members of the public to speak at the April 2015 regularly scheduled Board Meeting on the issue of electing Kathleen Curatolo as the Board Chair. As a matter of Robert’s Rules of Order, this would allow for the possibility that the motion to change Board Chair could be brought up for discussion at a Regular Board Meeting. 
Tuesday’s Meeting

The business portion of the meeting starts at 5:30 PM at the Everglades City School. As noted on the District website:
As agreed upon at the March 31, 2015, Special School Board Meeting, public comment procedures will change beginning with the April 14th Regular School Board Meeting. Public comments will be time certain starting at 5:30pm. Public comments will be presented in the following order:

1) Consent Agenda speakers- The comment card must be submitted prior to the start of the Consent Agenda comment period.

2) The Board will then act on the Consent Agenda.

3) General public comment speakers- The comment card must be submitted prior to the start of the general public comment period. Informational items must be addressed during general public comments.

4) Business Agenda public comments- Speakers may comment on any proposition (voted) item. The comment card must be submitted prior to the start of the comment period for each proposition upon which the Board will take official action by vote.

5) The business portion of the meeting begins after public comment concludes.
Please note:
You can now submit a public comment request card online.  The School Board Speaker Registration Card online form can be filled out online CLICK HERE 5 hours prior to each Board meeting. Filling out an online registration card prior to the meeting will hold your place in line to speak.  
Thanks to these new procedures, the business of the Board should progress more quickly than it has in the past.

I hope you’ll consider attending.



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