Local News

School board gets an earful at meeting

By From page A7 | August 02, 2013

The Davis school board’s agenda for Thursday night’s meeting was long on consent calendar items and contained no items budgeted for board discussion. But the trustees nonetheless heard from two members of the public, and ended up discussing — and ultimately postponing action on — several proposed revisions to school board policy and bylaws that had been listed for routine review and approval.

South Davis parent Robert Poppenga spoke during public comment, asserting that during the past nine months “there has been a persistent and ultimately divisive effort to dismantle or diminish the district’s AIM magnet program under the guise of an impartial review.” (The AIM program was formerly known under the name GATE; the change of the program’s title was made by the school board in May.)

“Lip service has been given to open communication and transparent processes, but in matters of trust, actions speak louder than words,” Poppenga said. “Words of assurance that self-contained AIM classrooms are not at risk ring hollow given district actions… I fear that the AIM Advisory Committee and the (school district’s) strategic planning processes are already being formulated to favor predetermined outcomes.” Poppenga urged the trustees to make sure that “the criteria and processes used to select the 25 individuals to be charged with identifying district goals (for the district’s strategic planning process)… need to be fully vetted and above reproach.”

Poppenga expressed concern that “without adequate explanation or even notice, the propose change to the board bylaws whereby district committee members will be recommended only by the superintendent or his designee raises additional red flags.”

Trustees Susan Lovenburg and Sheila Allen — who constitute the school board’s subcommittee on board policy — mentioned that all the proposed revisions to board policies and bylaws contained in Thursday’s agenda contained only changes recommended in documents from the California School Boards Association, and did not reflect any changes that had been proposed by their subcommittee or by district administration.

The school board postponed action on several of the policy revisions, since some trustees had not come to the meeting prepared for a discussion.

The school board also heard during public comment from Logan Kittle, who thanked the school board for allocating $50,000 toward an upgrade of the girl’s softball field at Davis High. However, Kittle also reminded the trustees that the community group that is partnering with the school district on this process “needs to raise more funds,” and urged the school district to finalize an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that would firm up details of the naming rights process and other aspects of the project. “Time is of the essence to get this done,” Kittle said.

Thursday’s meeting adjourned less than an hour after it began. However, Assistant Superintendent Matt Best noted that the school board will face a lengthy agenda when they meet again on August 15.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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