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Linglestown Gazette: Gazette publisher challenges CD officials to end 'Friday specials'

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Gazette publisher challenges CD officials to end 'Friday specials'

Below are comments that I made at Monday evening's Central Dauphin school board meeting prior to members voting to hire a new Director of Special Education at a salary of $100,000. (I'll post info on what took place at the meeting later this week.)

I’m not before you to object to hiring a Director of Special Education because I’m not knowledgeable enough about special education services offered by the district.

My comments are regarding the governmental process used to do the hiring.

I did a review of recent personnel reports and noted that the Oct. 15 report indicated that the current director had resigned effective Nov. 29, later changed to a Nov. 9 effective date.

No mention of the resignation and soon-to-come hiring was announced to the public during the Oct. 15 board meeting. The first notice of the hiring before the board tonight came on Nov. 2 when the Nov. 5 board meeting agenda was released to the public.

If things go per usual, the hiring will be done with a motion, a second and unanimous vote with no discussion or deliberation by board members.

This is what I call a “Friday special” — notice of a major vote under New Business shows up on Friday with a vote to take place on Monday evening.

This is a process that allows no room for citizen questions or involvement. As far as the board normally having no discussion prior to a vote, you as board members will have to explain that one.

Here are the questions I’d ask if there was time allotted for citizen involvement:

  • Why the rush?
  • Have parents of students who are in the special education program been given an opportunity to weigh in on the new hire?
  • Given the financial constraints facing the district, are that other options for providing oversight of the special education program other than hiring a big-ticket employee?

Here’s the bottom line: If the board wants citizen involvement in the school district’s affairs, the way you govern will need to be tweaked.

I have two suggestions:

I’d like to start a dialogue with board members to make sure everyone is on the same page about the provisions of the state’s Sunshine Law.

I recommend that the board not take a vote on agenda items that appear under New Business so the proposal or issue can be properly introduced and discussed in public by board member and administrators. The earliest a vote could take place is the second time an issue is on an agenda.

SAVE THE DATE — Citizens for CD Schools, a new group that aims to advance local public education, will be holding a kickoff meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at the Lower Paxton Township Municipal Center on Prince Street.



At 3:51 AM, Blogger Harry said...

I think this is a good idea. Though I think it certainly should be tweaked, perhaps it should be stronger than that.

Perhaps it's in the better interest of the citizens of the school district to begin considering more significant changes. I don't have a whole lot of trust in what the school district is doing, and this seems to be a trend that has been going on for at least 15 years.

At 5:14 AM, Blogger  said...

Good hearing from you again, Harry. You've been missed.

The two suggestions that I offered would move the board toward operating in a more open fashion.

I'm all ears if you have ideas for overhauling the way the district goes about educating young people.

At 5:13 AM, Blogger Harry said...

Thanks, Bill. I haven't commented in quite a while!

I think I remember reading the idea of shifting the district from the "regional" election concept we currently have to a district-wide election concept. I think that's a great idea, and probably the biggest change we could make.

If we want to keep the Board split into groups of three as they are now for the purpose of having elections every 2 years, I'm all for that. I think the idea that people are elected in regions is kind of crazy for such a small area.

I appreciate that CD is a larger school district in terms of size and population, but we would have better representation if it were district-wide elections.

I also appreciate that the district is going through a tough time. It's understandable why revenues would be down in a sluggish economy. But there's no reason for them to have "Friday specials." As far as I'm concerned, they are more harmful than good, because it raises the question, "are they doing what's in the best interest of the School District or Themselves?" And "Friday specials" gives the appearance it's more about Themselves.


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