The first of several recommended changes to board policies have been approved by the Weyauwega-Fremont School Board.
When the board met Monday, Aug. 23, it approved policy recommendations having to do with membership on the Personnel/Negotiations Committee, modifications to the district administrator’s job description and a recording policy.
The three changes were approved by a vote of 4-3, with board members Chuck Burgess, Dan Kohl, Neal Loehrke and Jim Stuebs voting yes, and board members Tony Beyer, Sandy Smith and Randy Yorkson voting no.
The recommendations were brought forward by the district’s legal counsel, Gill & Gill of Appleton.
Attorney Greg Gill Sr. suggested that membership on the Personnel/Negotiations Committee be modified so that only those who have a conflict of interest as defined by Wisconsin statutes would be prohibited from membership on the committee and that the district administrator only serve on committees if asked.
The approved recording policy means that neither the administration nor school board members shall record any conversations without first providing advance notice. The policy does not apply to recordings made during open meetings.
The third policy modification that was approved relates to the right of administrators to speak at meetings and preparation for meetings.
That policy was modified to state that the “administrator and/or his designees who are to report any matters to the board shall do so by submitting their report together with any supporting data in writing at least three business days prior to said monthly meeting unless unable to do so by virtue of an emergency situation in which case the report may be made without submitting the written reports and data in advance. Furthermore, the administrator and/or his/her designee shall only speak at the board and/or committee meetings when and if a board member requests his/her input.”
Gill said to the board, “My personal observation is the meetings would be more productive if you had reports at least three business days before meetings.”
He also said the administrator’s contract was being modified to curtail District Administrator F. James Harlan – and other administrators – from speaking unless asked to speak.
“Speak when you are spoken to. Get reports to us ahead. I think we will have more orderly, more friendly and more productive meetings,” Gill said.
Harlan opposed the modification, saying it was a breach of his contract.
Smith said that as a former principal, she believes there are times when administrators may have something to say that is pertinent to discussions.
Gill said that if administrators want to offer input, they can request to speak, and the board could say “yes” or “no.”
Or, after the board finishes its discussion, it could ask administrators is there is anything else to add.
“I have never in 40 years seen so much disruption as I’ve seen here,” Gill said. “It doesn’t do any good to have these arguments. This is designed to take the acrimony out of the meetings and will make you better prepared.”
Before the board voted on the recommended policy modifications, Beyer noted that at the last board meeting, there was discussion that any policy changes would be compared to the policies of other school districts.
Yorkson asked how following Robert’s Rules of Order differs from what was being recommended to the board.