We’ve been a bit quiet, but like you, our schedules are full of school concerts and other assorted holiday events. (Trust me when I say the above is an understatement!) Also? Not much is happening yet for us to write about.
Here’s what has happened since we last posted:
- The new board members were sworn in and talked about their priorities. Those aren’t a surprise: employee compensation (for everyone, not just teachers), restoring trust, addressing growth areas in the district, student achievement, managing district resources, testing and assessment, and revisiting the composition of the newly-formed District Accountability Committee to address any gaps.
- Brad Miller resigned, effective Nov. 30.
- Board members held a study session on Nov. 30 to talk though how they will do outreach with the community and to map out next meetings.
The study session was basically about process: how they schedule school visits, how they should do community outreach meetings (like community budget forums), etc. You can watch or listen to the full meeting here: http://livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310/videos/105904116.
They’ll have their first regular meeting today. The study session starts at 5:30 and is about the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). They’ll likely also talk a bit about projections for the 2015-16 budget cycle, which begins soon.
The regular meeting begins at 6:30 and it looks like public comment will occupy the vast majority of the agenda. The consent agenda largely contains the usual: approval of minutes, approval of contracts for temporary buildings at overcrowded NW Arvada schools, mill levy certification (which happens every year in December), and approval of new hires, staffing changes, and resignations.
The only unusual item is about a reconfiguration of Bradford Elementary from a K-6 to a K-8. According to Superintendent McMinimee and district staff, the change is being driven by parents, students and staff, and those affected have been able to comment on the change at meetings at the school and through a survey. The board members asked about this specific item and questioned whether it should be on the consent agenda at their Nov. 30 study session, and the advice they were given was that this decision is being made with support from that community.
The board will also work on the calendar and agenda for upcoming meetings.
The last item on the agenda is listed as a two-hour executive session to “receive legal advice on the Colorado Open Meetings Law, the Colorado Open Records Act, conflicts of interest and standards of conduct for local public officials, and relevant board and district policies related to the same.”
The fact that it’s listed as an executive session has already drawn fire from the usual players, including one who ironically commented that the public deserves to know why the board might need its own counsel. Guess she finally caught on to what JCSBW has been saying for two years – not to mention parents, students, community members and the two members of the board minority. We will also note, however, that unlike two years ago, the agenda item is to merely to receive information.
We’ll also remind readers that former BOE attorney Brad Miller required such the board members to meet to discuss what legal counsel the board would need. That requirement was in his original contract and was mentioned again in his resignation letter:
Please note that upon receipt of notice of termination, the Board agreed that it immediately will make a good faith effort and take all necessary steps to obtain any needed new counsel.
We applaud the efforts of the new board to immediately learn what they need to do to be fully compliant with both Colorado open meetings laws and the Colorado Open Records Act. That was very clearly a problem for members of the old board, as we noted in the past. Should this agenda item also be conducted in open session? Perhaps, though receiving legal advice on specific legal questions is a protected use of executive session:
State and local public bodies (including college and university boards) may use executive sessions to receive advice from an attorney on specific legal questions.
It’s also possible that board members may choose to conduct some of the agenda item in public before moving to executive session to request legal advice about other specific questions they may have. In either case, moving to executive session requires a vote, so we’ll see what they choose to do.
You can watch the fun here: http://livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310.
And as suggested by a reader, we’re going to start ending our posts with a new phrase:
Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll update about tonight’s meeting, unless the pile of holiday preparations awaiting buries us until January.