Letter to the Editor

Procedure issue with CCSC

Monday, May 31, 2010

To the Editor:

During the past several years, I have attended most of the meetings of the Clay Community School Corporation Board of Trustees. I have listened to comments by patrons and the members of the board itself.

There is an issue of parliamentary procedure that, apparently, is repeatedly overlooked. Several times, a member of the board has proposed an item for debate and disposition by the board in a future meeting that is never mentioned again. It never shows up on the agenda and simply dies for lack of attention.

This is improper parliamentary procedure. The prepared proposed agenda is not the "official" agenda of a meeting unless or until it is approved by the majority of the members of the meeting by vote. Until such a vote has been taken, the proposed agenda may be amended by a motion and second from the qualified and voting membership and approved or rejected by a majority vote when the question is called.

To use the proposed agenda by default is not wrong, however, to move to include items in the agenda or a future agenda, have that motion seconded and passed by a majority is the proper way of ensuring that the item would be included.

The agenda and the meeting is not controlled by any person in the meeting or on the outside of the meeting, even the president of the board. The control lies with the majority of the members present.

To date, the CCSC Board of Trustees has, in fact, abdicated the power to control its meetings to the preparers of a proposed agenda. (If you look at Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised -- 10th Edition -- this information can be found at pages 360-363).

Apparently, one of these "forgotten" agenda items is the Public Work Session for input by the public on the bus garage that was proposed several meetings ago that has never taken place. Of course, no vote for or against having such a meeting has occurred as no motion was made to have it voted upon by the members of the board.

As a candidate for a seat on the board, I attended several meetings with the other candidates during which we had a dialogue with each other and those members of the public who were present.

One of the subjects that was discussed was public meetings where the members of the board and the public could have a dialogue out of the environment of the board's required meeting to handle the business of the corporation. This is almost the only way for a member of the public to get a chance to speak with one or several members of the board at the same time.

Giving a speech at the regular meetings is a lot like releasing a note into the wind tied to a balloon or keying a radio that has a microphone without having a speaker, without feedback, you have no idea if you reached anyone.

The scheduling of executive sessions immediately preceding the regular meeting of the board precludes speaking with any member of the board by any member of the public.

Should a member of the public attempt to communicate with the members of the board via e-mail through the school corporation website, the situation is much the same with a lack of feedback that the message was received or that anyone took notice of it.

In the last four years, I have probably e-mailed the school board 20-30 times about several issues or to give the members information on a subject. I have received acknowledgment that my communication was received about five times and, generally, only when I angered someone. Why should a member of the public not come to the conclusion that, once elected to the board, a member of the board loses touch with the public?

Now, (Tina) Heffner has called for transparency in the meetings. How can that be accomplished unless the members of the board open channels of communication and stimulate the flow of ideas to and from the public?

Leo L. Southworth,