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Lisa Baldwin speaks out on November School Board meeting

By Lisa Baldwin –

Buncombe School Board restricts members’ ability to question, make motions and discuss your child’s education

The November Board meeting was tightly controlled – Board Member Comment and Board Directives (a time to make motions) were not on the agenda and my motion to reinstate them failed for lack of a second.

In June, the School Board limited their own ability to ask questions of administration and is now proposing a procedure to limit our ability to make motions…. just as Amy Churchill will be sworn in at the December meeting. Could it be that she and I will be able to second each other’s motions and thus a discussion of hard issues will be required and a vote taken?

Saturday’s Asheville Citizen-Times attempts to turn me into the “villain” of the school board because I am standing up to the status quo and fighting for your children.

I asked the question, “Will I have to say ‘Heil Hitler’ at the next meeting?” because of the severe limitations proposed to prevent the Board from making motions, on top of the restrictions on our ability to ask questions.

Proposed Procedure to Limit Motions

1) “Board Directives” are requests for the Superintendent to review and/or research an issue and make a recommendation to this Board, if needed at a subsequent meeting of the Board.

2) In accordance with Board Policy 201*, “Board Directives” must be submitted to the Superintendent’s office 7 days in advance for inclusion on the agenda. Board Directives must comply with Policy 201 to be considered at a meeting.

3) “Board Directives” are not motions for immediate action on any issue.

4) When a Board Directive is proposed on the agenda it must be simply stated without giving detailed justifications. The Board Directive must receive a second and majority vote to permit consideration at the next regular meeting. No substantive discussion of the merits of the Directive will be permitted when the Directive is initially proposed.

5) If the Directive is approved for consideration by majority vote, it will be added to the next regular meeting agenda as an action item for further consideration by the Board along with any recommendation the Superintendent may elect to make.

6) Directives that do not receive a second or do not receive a majority vote will not be considered. Issues presented as Board Directives which fail to receive a second or majority vote may not be reasserted in the absence of some significant change in circumstances and the Superintendent and administration shall not spend time or resources on the proposed directive unless otherwise necessary for the administration of our schools.

7) If a Board member believes that a critical issue is time sensitive and requires immediate attention he/she should notifiy the Chair and Superintendent immediately so that appropriate action can be taken by the Superintendent and/or Board of Education

Budget Passes

With a 6-1 vote, the three page budget passed. I challenged the Board to fully utilize our Chief Financial Officer’s talents in creating an appropriate budget format. The budget continues to be developed behind closed doors. Our county commissioners supply only 24% of the budget when other counties (Cabarrus) our size contribute 35%. Ms. Parker stated a long-standing agreement to only ask the commissioners for increases for special projects such as last year’s $2.4 million in operating costs for the new intermediate schools. I also suggested that we ask our state legislators for flexibility in spending the $12 million article 39 sales tax revenues we receive each year. This money is restricted to construction and is unique to Buncombe County.

Religion Policy

The Board voted to direct the administration to create a religion policy, incorporating Religious Freedom Day (January 16) into the curriculum and offering an opportunity for a community information fair to be held at school open houses. Mr. Bryant and Mr. Craig opposed the motion.

Nepotism Policy Fails

I have tried to get our Board to pass a Recruitment and Selection Policy that has hiring the most highly qualified teachers as its goal. This has failed to pass. At the meeting I proposed more transparency on the personnel report. The Board is charged with the important responsibility of approving all hires. I praised the information that has been added about new hires – licensing status, college degree, etc. – but requested a column letting us know about close relations, for transparency. Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools have such a policy. My motion failed 6-1.

Divide on the School Board – Why the 6-1 Votes?

“Lisa Baldwin is asking questions that many taxpayers – parents and teachers included – would like to have answered. Fellow board members are trying to discredit her and the candidates challenging them. While having a hard time getting answers, some facts are hard to hide.” The Board majority:

Voted against broadcasting Board meetings on our own Cable Channel 16

Voted against having a line-item budget.

Voted against regular monthly work sessions which are an opportunity to discuss priorities, staff directives and agenda items for regular meetings.

Voted to stifle the voice of the people by forbidding Board members from asking central office staff questions.

Vote against getting data in appropriate formats to allow informed decision-making.

Voted to keep revenue-generating “Little Debbies and Doritos” in school lunch rooms.

Voted against having healthy guidelines for the snacks sold at lunch time.

Voted for a 39% increase in the school insurance premium without getting quotes.

Refused to consider proven cost-saving measures that would free up money for teaching/classroom.

Voted against an independent investigation – contractors not getting permits/inspections for wiring and roofs due to lack of oversight.

Voted against a transparent personnel policy and recently hired relatives of Board members and superintendent without letting the Board know of relationship.

Next Meeting: Monday, Dec. 3 at 6:30pm

Join us as we welcome Amy Churchill to the Board!

Please contact Lisa Baldwin with your concerns and suggestions by replying to this email or at lisa.baldwin@bcsemail.org or 628-9537 or 243-6590. Contact other Board members at http://www.buncombe.k12.nc.us/page/27

This message is the opinion of Lisa Baldwin and is not intended to represent the official position of the Buncombe County Schools or the Buncombe County Board of Education

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