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Board voting policy changes

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / May 13, 1998

RESERVE – St. John the Baptist Parish School Board members will nowhave more time to digest big issues brought before them, instead of making a rash decisions.

The board agreed to change its policy on voting on new business Thursday night in a 10-1 vote.

With the policy revision in place the board now has to wait until the meeting after a proposal is presented to vote on issues dealing with curriculum changes, budget adoption or revisions, student attendance zones, board member district lines or changes, teacher allotments, bond issues, tax proposals and major changes in board policy.

Board members Richard DeLong and Gerald Keller suggested the change at the last school board meeting. DeLong made a motion to accept the policyrevision at Thursday’s meeting, which Keller seconded.

Stephenie Watkins, Head Start director, commented on the problems it may pose in applying for competitive funds. “The board meets only twotimes a month,” she said. “This may cause a problem for administrators.And it may prevent me from being able to apply for competitive funds.”Board member Gerald Keller said his comment wasn’t targeted at Watkins, but he addressed the fact that sometimes administrators procrastinate. “Ithink the intent of this motion is to put a little more pressure on the administrators to do some more planning,” he said. “And we can alwayswaive policy.”Board member Clarence Triche wasn’t comforted by Keller’s words and echoed Watkins concerns about timeliness and even mentioned another method to use if a board member needs more time to digest an issue.

He used the example that the board voted unanimously to allot an extra $35,000 to finish upgrading the computer systems at the school, not even an hour earlier.

“What happens then,” Triche questioned. “Do we wait two weeks forcomputer upgrades? School is out by then. It’s called table a motion if youaren’t happy. We can’t make momentary decisions that affect this board 10years down the road.”But other board members liked the idea, saying the policy revision will help board members conduct necessary research before making important decisions. “Nothing is perfect,” Russ Wise said. “But I tend to think werush to judgment a number of times where board members haven’t even had a chance to read the document.”Matthew Ory was thinking of the community when he agreed with the motion. “We need to give the community a chance to come to the meetingsand let them know in advance that we are about to make a big decision,” he said.

“This is going to be an easier way for us to conduct our business and make educated judgments,” James Madere said.

Although C.J. Watkins was in favor of the motion, he still isn’t convincedthat the new policy change will stay in place. “I think it’s a good idea tohave the information before deciding,” he said. “But as soon as electionsare over someone will get their pet project,” and want it passed immediately.

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