Monday, April 23, 2007

BOE Agenda 2007-04-24

The BOE agenda for Tuesday night has been uploaded to the MNPS website this morning.

Item A(2)(b) would allow current 4th graders at AZ Kelly & Maxwell to remain there for their 5th grade year (transportation provided). Page 3.

Superintendent Pedro Garcia is graded on EE-7 (Budgeting and financial planning) and that can be found beginning at page 8. Board member George Thompson in dual role as BOE member and head of the Council of Great City Schools is quoted as saying:

"Continued improvement needed - The amount allocated for board Development and other governance priorities is unreasonably low for a district our size. Lack of appropriate development breeds confusion as to the Board members' role and thus invites micro-management."
Gracie Porter's comments about this essential function are not to be found on this document.

Page 10 is where Karen Johnson's concerns about Metro taking over payroll functions from MNPS are expressed.
"Please provide update on how well most recent payroll change is working. MNEA had expressed concerns. Would like to possibly see employee feedback survey on this."
She's also concerned about the contract bids:
"Would like to see information on all who bid for services and who is awarded contracts all in the same document. Would like to see a breakdown if possible on how many are minority owned specificying women owned, African-American owned, Hispanic Owned, Asian Owned, etc..." (Page 11)
But this may be the MOST important part of the meeting. The Board is amending their own job description. Much of this is similar to the old version but they've added some specifics and every citizen will want to review this and comment to the Board about this. There is little room in this document for dissension which seriously concerned me back in the summer when I was subject to it and it still concerns me. I understand that the Chair needs to do a better job of running the meeting but muzzling the members isn't the way to go. The public already has little knowledge of Board member opinions on issues--this isn't going to help. How do you encourage 'diversity in viewpoints' and yet require members to 'criticize privately' or 'never embarrass each other or the district'? This document doesn't encourage a healthy airing of the pros and cons of issues facing the community regarding public education.

And what parents are still not going to understand is section 3 which specifically prevents the board from assuming 'responsibility for resolving operational problems or complaints'. Most voters and taxpayers assume that this is part of the reason we have a school board. That stepping in when things aren't working is why they voted for their board member. What they're going to get instead is direction to the central office person in charge, a smile and a 'vote for me' later on.

There are no provisions in this document for those who dare to violate the policy.

Policy Type: Governance Process GP-2

Governing Style

The Board will govern with emphasis on End results for students rather than on interpersonal issues of he Board; encourage diversity in viewpoints, focus on strategic leadership rather than administrative detail; observe clear distinction between Board and Director roles; make collective rather than individual decisions; exhibit future orientation rather than past or present; and govern proactively rather than reactively.


1 The Board will cultivate a sense of group responsibility. The Board, not the Director or staff, will be responsible for excellence in governing. The Board will use the expertise of individual Board members to enhance the performance of the board as a body, but will not substitute individual judgments and opinions for the Board's collective values. Accordingly, members will;

a. focus on issues rather than personalities
b. respect decisions of the full board
c. exercise honesty in all written and interpersonal interaction, never intentionally misleading or misinforming each other
d. criticize privately, praise publicly
e. make every reasonable effort to protect the integrity and promote the positive
image of the district and one another
f. never embarrass each other or the district

2. The Board will hold itself accountable for governing with excellence This self- discipline will apply to attendance, preparation for meetings, adherence policymaking principles, respect of roles, and ensuring effective governance capability into the future To ensure that the board's business meetings are conducted with maximum effectiveness and efficiency, members will:

a. speak only when recognized duing meetings
b. not interrupt each other during meetings
c. not engage in side conversations during meetings
0. ask questions for clarification
e. listen for content and understanding
f. not repeat what has already been said during meetings
g. support the chair's efforts to facilitate an orderly meeting
h. communicate in a timely manner to avoid surprises
ensure that all members’ voices are heard
j. adhere to Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised 10th Edition.
k. refrain from introducing a motion as new business for matters not directly related to the current meeting's agenda items nor related to an issue currently tinder consideration. Instead, any unrelated motions should be accompanied with a request to place the motion on the next regular meeting's agenda for action. [emphasis in the original]

3. The Board will direct, control, and inspire the district through The careful establishment of written policies reflecting the Board's values and perspectives The Board's major policy focus will be on the intended long-term benefits for students, not on the administrate or programmatic means of attaining those benefits. Accordingly members will not:

a. assume responsibility for resolving operational problems or complaints
b. give personal direction to any part of the operational organization

4. Continuous Board development will include orientation of candidates for the Board and new members or the Board about The Board's governance process and periodic Board discussion and evaluation of its process to assure continued improvement

5 The Board will allow no officer, individual, or committee of the board to hinder or be an excuse for not fulfilling its commitments.

6. The Board will monitor its process and performance at each meeting through a debriefing process. Board members' attendance at all meetings and work sessions will be monitored regularly. Self-monitoring will include comparison of the Board’s performance with policies in the Governance Process and Board-Director Relationship categories.

7. The Board may, by majority vote of the members of Board, revise or amend it policies at any time. However, normally a proposed policy revision will b discussed at one session of the Board prior to being approved at a subsequent Board meeting.


Laura said...

Thanks for pointing out this policy shift. If we're just worried about BOE members "embarrassing" each other or the district, I guess we should get rid of the board and just hire more PR people.

Nashteach said...

"Please provide update on how well most recent payroll change is working. MNEA had expressed concerns. Would like to possibly see employee feedback survey on this."

Oh my, payroll issues have been a major source of contention. Where do I begin? First, coaches, many who have been coaching for years and decades, did not receive coaching and sponsorship supplements until October 6. Many started the tireless work with students on August 1st- over 2 months without receiving the pay promised for this extra work that often has teachers working well into the evening. Second, our incentive pay, called “Career Ladder,” underwent a change. To receive Career Ladder pay, an employee must be on payroll for at least 100 days; however, for years we have been paid this over the entire year; indeed, we do the work to earn it over the course of the entire year, some earning it through summer programs in July. But under the new practice, we don’t see a penny of it until January. The state apparently got on MNPS’s case about a handful of career ladder recipients who retired midyear. The state told them they would have to eat the money. They DID NOT tell them they had to begin paying us starting after day 100. So, rather than collect the monies from a dozen or so early retirees’ last checks or TCRS money, well over a thousand of us have to wait up to six months to receive it. This also wrecks our social security calculations if we are in the last years of working. (Not pension because that’s based more on academic years).

Incidentally, these two issues were coming to a head the week of the Blair Wilson incentive pay vote. We received memos about these pay issues as a vote was taking place about “diversified pay”. Many were skeptical of and confused about new incentive pay plans when MNPS seemed to be playing games with (or unable to pay on time) the other two main incentive pay practices. The final day of the first vote of incentive pay was the first day coaches (and student council, yearbook, and newspaper sponsors) received their supplement. The January day the Vandy Middle School incentive pay program votes were due was the first day teachers began receiving their Career Ladder pay. Coincidence?

Further, payroll’s new stubs are very difficult to understand (and I’m pretty financially savvy). Many W2s were erroneous and the correct one arrived after the Jan. 30 deadline, causing some to have to wait to file. Recently, we have learned MNPS made errors in what they take out for our mandatory pension contribution (Which is another rant of mine- I’d prefer to be allowed to invest that 5% myself.) so payroll will be taking more monies in the final checks before summer break. Five years ago, my 403B contributions arrived at my annuity provider in 4 days; now it takes 11-14 days. Why? How is the extra interest income spent?

When we call to inquire about the pay we earned and the errors they made, we are treated miserably, being told “Well, if you all wouldn’t call, I might get it done.” We have a right to ask where our earned money is or when mistakes will be corrected- or if our stub or W2 contains errors. MNEA has broached it and relays the admin’s response, but only a turnaround in results will placate the educators in my building. We are ticked.

Kay Brooks said...

Whoa, that's a boatload of payroll issues. I won't complain about the time it took to get a refund of the background check fee anymore.

How is it they got so many things wrong? Did no one from MNPS payroll transfer over to the Metro Payroll department to assist?

"Many were skeptical of and confused about new incentive pay plans when MNPS seemed to be playing games with (or unable to pay on time) the other two main incentive pay practices."

Well there's a piece of the puzzle no one has mentioned yet and would have been nice to know. I can understand how some would not welcome one more way to mess up the paychecks. People were confused enough about who would have been involved and how much could have been received.

"The January day the Vandy Middle School incentive pay program votes were due was the first day teachers began receiving their Career Ladder pay. Coincidence?"

I don't know--but pretty interesting for sure.

Have any of you asked any of the councilmen to investigate the payroll office?

Nashteach said...

"Did no one from MNPS payroll transfer over to the Metro Payroll department to assist?"

I'm pretty sure some did.

Good idea about the council!