Wednesday evening's Clay Community School Board of Trustee's meeting turned out to be "much a'do about nothing."
Warned in advance that the Board wasn't going to hire anyone and that there wasn't going to be any jobs created at this meeting, more than 120 people, many teachers dressed in black, listened for 15 minutes as Board members Steve Grigsby, Jim Guy, Joe Thomas, Ted Jackson, Terry Barr and Dottie King discussed the fact that three job descriptions needed to be updated.
They talked about how the Curriculum Coordinator position might need to be split into two jobs to handle the various work loads; how the dismissed position of Director of Student Community Programs might need to be revived to assist with Title 1 and at-risk students and the third position, Director of Operations, was mentioned briefly before the Board adjourned into Executive Session without making any recommendations.
Everything would have to wait for the new Superintendent to take the information under advisement before the Board could continue further on the matter, according to Board President Steve Grigsby.
"If that was all they were going to do, then why have a meeting at all," Clay Community Classroom Teachers Association President Russ True said afterwards.
Many teachers at the meeting were upset by rumors that a new position would be created and someone on the Board would immediately take over as Director of Operations, circumventing the need for a new Superintendent.
It took less then two minutes for Grigsby to discuss the mysterious position at the center of the controversy.
Turns out the job description for Director of Operations is almost the same as that of an Assistant Superintendent. But, details about what exactly is the difference were not discussed at great length at the meeting.
Grigsby, who is rumored as the person to get the job, denies interest in applying for the position.
"How can I apply for a non-existent position? There is no Director of Operations position. There is no job description for Director of Operations," Grigsby told The Brazil Times after the meeting. "There will be no new positions until the new Superintendent is hired and then, only if he tells us this is needed and if we can afford it, will the Board take further action."
If the rumor had become a reality at the meeting, it would have been an infraction of Indiana Code 35-44-1-7, which states:
"A person serving as a public servant who approves or negotiates a contract or knowingly or intentionally profiteers from public service; or obtains a pecuniary interest in a contract or purchase with an agency within one year commits profiteering from public service, a Class D felony."
A Class D felony is punishable with up to three years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
With what appears to have been a misunderstanding about the Board's agenda for the Special Session, True blames the mounting tension and animosity among teachers on the Board's continuing ability to be vague while providing information.
"I don't think this Board is as open with their intentions as they need to be," he said. "Those two things lend themselves to an environment ruled by rumors and innuendoes."
Calling a Special Session and then not really talking about anything of apparent value had many who attended the meeting scratching their heads in confusion and asking each other the same question:
Why would the Board request the Central Office staff be reduced by three members (the original request was for a reduction of five staff members) a few months ago, and now all of a sudden they want to add additional staff?
True wasn't sure about the answer.
"Because nothing really happened tonight, there's really nothing to say. It was a non-meeting. But what I can say, is this: They lay off more than 30 teachers and now they talk about creating or reviving jobs at Central Office while we're repeatedly told there is no money," True said. "We're willing to settle for two-third a percent raise over the past three years, but yet they look at spending money at Central Office. They talk about those people being overworked and consider splitting their jobs or hiring assistants. They're no more or less overworked then teachers. Why not spend the money to make smaller class sizes? It doesn't make sense."