While the new year for the school board has started off a little bumpy, we still remain optimistic that the seven members will choose to put aside past disputes and focus on working together.
We understand following the rules and adhering to policy is important, but can’t the board members help each other instead of using every infraction or perceived infraction to further divide themselves and ultimately the community?
There seems to be an unwillingness to stop and really listen to each other and solve the problem. In varying degrees, all board members have participated in undermining the success of the board and that is a shame.
Setting the goals for this new year is an integral part of the board retreat as this can help all seven board members discover what are the shared goals and priorities and then commit to achieving these goals as a cohesive board. This is possible if all are willing to listen and to compromise.
So given all that is at stake for this retreat we must ask; what purpose does it serve for Director Montagu to once again manufacture a crisis where none exists?
What purpose does it serve to create a hostile environment for the retreat because even on the issue of organizing a retreat, a line in the sand is drawn by Ms. Montagu with the help of Ms. Ward and Ms. Howard?
The truth is that the board retreats are organized by the board president and the superintendent and going back through board minutes from May 2011 to current, the discussion of retreats by the whole board did not occur.
Ms. Montagu never had an issue with previous board president Sharon Olson working with Dr. Cabrera or with Dr. Scheer to organize retreats and so why an issue now?
The district (like many others) do not record the audio during board retreats, which there seems to be a wide range of legal opinions regarding if retreats must be recorded. Maybe there needs to be a legislative fix to clearly define the types of meetings and procedures required for each meeting type.
The retreats held in 2012 and in 2013 were both held in small rooms at the admin building and both had limited seating for the public. Funny how there was not a peep from Director Montagu either year.
As for retreat costs Director Montagu seems to have selected outrage depending on who the facilitator has worked with in the past. Here are the costs which came directly from an open records request we submitted on August 14th:
Dec. 2011 Retreat:
Ken Roberge: charged $1,100
Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013 Retreat:
Lucinda Hundley: charged $5,938
Dec. 2013/Jan 2014 Retreat:
Jane Barnes: charged $3,077
Aug. 2014 Retreat:
Dave Martin: charging $2,100
It appears that the only reason Directors Montagu, Ward and Howard object to Dave Martin is due to his working with Brad Miller in the past. Did Montagu have an issue with Lucinda Hundley who is a former associate of Dr. Scheer while serving the Littleton School District? Of course not and it also doesn’t matter.
How does having worked with Brad Miller in the past create a conflict of interest? It seems that anyone who has ever worked for or with Brad Miller in any capacity, is forever more marked with a “Scarlett Letter M” (for Miller) and is to be ostracized.
The Superintendent and his staff rely on the Board to provide direction via clearly defined goals and priorities and so what matters most is the effectiveness of the facilitator to help the board with this process.
We truly hope that the board retreat being held tomorrow (Aug 25th) is a success and that all seven board members put aside the past and focus on the future.