Following is my review of this week’s board meeting.
Midyear budget cuts are coming down from the state and Assistant Superintendent Wael Elatar provided a doom and gloom report. He is still looking backward and lamented to the board about where we would have been if the per-student revenue from the state had continued its multi-decade upward trend. You can tell by how many times he mentions Governor Brown’s tax increase measure that educators are still in favor of taxing us into oblivion. He seems to have little hope the new taxes will be approved,.. let’s hope. I think it’s time our administrators stop looking backward and start looking forward and take a serious look at how they do business.
Board member Janelle Poulter asked the cabinet to see the Superintendent’s Budget Review Committee’s list of 65 plus items they are prioritizing before making a recommendation to the Superintendent for cuts. Even though two school board members sit on Dr. Kayrell’s rubber stamping committee, it seemed like Mrs. Poulter was pulling teeth to get the cabinet to commit to providing her the list. Listening was more painful than my last teeth cleaning.
It seems the administration forgets who they work for. Mrs. Poulter, next time you want something from your employees, don’t ask for it, demand it. That’s what management does in the world outside the Government School Culture.
The board authorized the administration to move forward with the swimming pool solar heating project by approving a $13,000 design contract with their architects. This project, approved almost two years ago, is supposed to save the district $40,000 per year with a final cost of almost a half a million dollars. I know most of us facing serious cuts in our income would commit to a large home improvement that may pay for itself in 11 plus years… Really?
The administration asked for authorization from the school board to move about six million dollars from a non-restricted status to a restricted status by increasing the district’s reserves from the minimum required 3% to more than 9% of the annual budget. Beaumont Teachers Association President Jody Behrens told the board she feared this was a strategy by the administration to limit the teachers’ negotiating position right before a new round of budget cuts.
Mrs. Poulter and fellow board member, State Assembly Candidate Marc Orozco, questioned Mr. Elatar on the strategy. When it appeared Mr. Elatar’s political spin wasn’t working, Dr. Kayrell stepped in and told the board to approve the request. This ended discussion and the board approved the request unanimously.
Finally, during the board’s closing comments, President Lara questioned Mr. Orozco’s ethics and told Mr. Orozco that she “admonishes” him. She could have done this with a scheduled agenda item giving the other board members board members, including Mr. Orozco, an opportunity to comment. She could have done this during the closed session. But she chose to do this in public and after Mr. Orozco had made his closing remarks. When Mr. Orozco asked to be allowed to respond, Mrs. Lara asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mrs. De Longchamp, on cue, made the motion and it was quickly seconded. Who was it that said the Board President doesn't have any more power than the other board members?
The show must go on...