Tempers tested at school board meeting Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Jan 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Newly elected school district trustee Steve Nelson is sticking to his campaign promise that he would not serve as a "rubber stamp" for the district administration. Whether he will be the instrument of change he campaigned on -- without alienating the other trustees, the superintendent and other top-ranking district staff -- remains to be seen.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 18, 2013, 11:00 AM
Posted by juan aranda, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Point made. Im here, I will scrutinize all. Have a mandate.
As an ex trustee, here is my take. I agree with the no rubber stamping issue. While I was on the Board, I also made that a point.
But, the Board is composed of 5 individuals. Dynamics obviously are present and will dictate a given path. If the main goal is to be PART of a group whose purpose is to do the best for the children and the community, then state your discomfort and abide by the majority decision. But while stating your point of view, you should not be overly aggressive and or disrespectful (note both times the 1 - 4 vote),because you may gain a phyrric victory and lose the battle (shows I spelled the word wrong - sorry). WE are all in this together, and by we, I include myself and also all those living in Mountain View, and I certainly wish to have a Board that can work together.
Posted by Patricia H., a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm
I applaud Mr. Nelson for speaking up. It's about time that the public is able to give input and ask questions. It's the only way to completely understand the issues. The other 4 Board should take into consideration, what principles Mr. Nelson was elected on.
True, all discussions should be conducted in a considerate and thoughtful manner. Interrupting each other shows disrespect and, with bickering, the real issue is lost.
Posted by About time, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm
Its about time someone spoke up on that board and provides some sunshine. Who are these architects that were chosen? When is the public going to be able to comment on the middle school upgrades? When is the next Measure M meeting (although we know that committee has no power, either.)
Steve won because the current board is not doing a good job of asking the hard questions. I just hope Chris and Bill start asking them too. Phil and Ellen, as we have already seen, just rubber-stamp everything and are really due to be replaced in the next election.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Cuernavaca neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 4:09 pm
You rock Mr. Nelson! Give them hell. That's why I voted for you. If you smell something not right, challenge them on it and bring it to light. BTW, exactly who are we talking about with "top-ranking district staff"? The CFO? Who's left? The HR lady? Those two are hardly top-ranking.
Posted by Really?, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm
The public has ALWAYS been able to give input. you can actually attend a meeting, which almost never happens. I really am tired of people saying that the public needs more input. The public needs to SPEAK UP! Take some resonsibility
When the public does want to give input, the Board certainly hears about it. They get phone calls, emails, and people come to the meetings to talk about it.
I hope that Nelson does what he promised to those who voted for him - he does not rubber-stamp. But, I also hope that he does not make it difficult for the other Trustees, and impossible to get anyone to run again, due to fear in arguing and being interrupted.
Posted by I Was There, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm
Divergent opinions on a school board are healthy. However, the manner in which Mr. Nelson presented his opinions are the problem. He was rude, belligerent and intolerant of the opinions of other members of the board. He is one of five and must allow the others to have as much input as he expects to receive from them.
He also quotes sections of Education Code out of context to support his view point. Either quote it correctly or don't quote it at all.
Posted by Concerned parent, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm
I too was at the last school board meeting and was deeply offended by the bickering that went on at the meeting. Mr. Nelson seemed to be argumentative just to be argumentative. He was rude and belligerent and was not being a positive public role model.
The meeting looked more like a 3 ring circus than an honest discussion among the leaders of the district.
I don't want the school board to rubber stamp, but I also want them to listen without personal bias.
Posted by The Children Bickered, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2013 at 6:03 am
I support someone challenging the issues, but if they lack the ability to do it in a civil manner, then we will have gridlock. That's a simple fact. Board meetings mired in petty arguments are a HUGE WASTE OF RESOURCES and result in far less positives for the district.
Mr Nelson, you need to settle down a bit. Make your points but don't get so locked into the argument that you hurt the district by impeding progress.
You weren't elected to "clean up this town" single handedly. We the voters will decide, and if the divergent opinion on the Board shows no results other than locking things up, then we'll find another divergent opinion who can show better results.
The idea part of shaking things up is easy. Execution is where you'll be evaluated...how you do things is just as important as why. You're new, you'll learn...hopefully.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Jan 19, 2013 at 8:56 am
Don't care for running stamping but to spend time making plans, holding meetings, studies, gathering public input and still not enough. Yes we do need safeguards, we need cost controls, we also need better paid supported teachers, their staffs and the places in which they teach.
You need a staff, a board to think now and into the future instead of acting like kids. Behave, get down to business. Please for the sake of those who can't attend meetings.
Posted by Didn't vote for steve, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Jan 19, 2013 at 10:28 am
While I agree that there was rubber stamping with the previous board and that it is great to have 3 new trustees; if the meetings can't run smoothly enough to keep the board members present, Steve's "voice" does not appear to be the way to present differing opinions. He may well have had some good arguments, he simply needs to take a very long look at his presentation style. Steve left everyone in attendance feeling frustrated and angry because he seems to enjoy ramping up to an argument. That's what he did every time he presented information to the board (which he did frequently before being elected). Those who voted for him should have seen this coming. Indeed, questions need to be asked, other opinions need to be heard and the rubber stamping needs to stop. But Steve needs to calm down and state his opinions without being rude and trying to outshout the rest of the board (who also have the right to be heard). This last meeting was absolutely almost impossible to sit through. If Bill did leave because he couldn't take any more of Steve's behavior, more power to him! Maybe we should have done exactly what Bill did and left Steve to speak only to himself. I will attend the next meeting with the hope that Steve can control himself and if he can't, I will leave and encourage others to do the same. Just like a child throwing a tantrum to get what he wants; we shouldn't give Steve the attention or audience. It will only encourage him to continue this outrageous behavior.
Posted by district parent, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Jan 20, 2013 at 8:16 pm
This board has a looonnnggg history of going along with whatever the Superintendent de jour has to say.
More than once I've seen a handful of parents go to the podium to advocate for a particular position, the board listened and nodded politely, and then, with no or very little discussion, proceed to vote UNANIMOUSLY the other way.
There's a reason why Steven Nelson received so many votes, beating out others who were highly qualified school board candidates. Obviously there are a sizeable number of parents who are sick of the imperious, controlling powers at the district office.
And don't let those claims of "we already gathered input" fool you. I asked my child's science teacher what suggestions s/he gave the district about remodeling the middle school science labs under the proposed bond measure. The teacher had no idea what I was talking about, had never heard of the bond, had never been asked anything by anyone at the district about new lab facilities. The district office believes they know better and make many, many decisions that should be made by the people who do the actual teaching.
Posted by Old Steve, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Jan 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm
Just because one teacher did not pay attention (or maybe was not here two years ago) does not mean public input has not been sought. The school facilities plan evolved over almost two years of effort and input. Now that Mr. Nelson is a board member maybe he can be more objective about the various types of improvements addressed in the school facilities plan. He seems to have a personal opinion that Fire Suppression is the most important thing, no matter what.
To all involved in this discussion:
California Education Code would fill a shelf in any home bookcase. Quoting it extensively and without context should be left for the courtroom and the attorneys. Perhaps Mr. Nelson missed his true calling.
Posted by NOS, a resident of another community, on Jan 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm
Actually, Old Steve and I Was There, it's important that elected officials try their best to independently confirm what the law, and contracts say. Let's see, in the last month we read in the papers that a local Board didn't read the contracts of two successive superintendents, and the attorney for the same district gave the wrong residential requirement for an appointment.
So .. Ed Code Sect 15278-15282 covers COC like ours, and "15282 (5)(b) No employee or official of the district shall be appointed to the citizens' oversight committee." Sort of makes it clear that an ex-officio Board member is not a voting member of a COC. And if an ex-officio Board member attends and starts making "motions", its obvious some sort of accidental legal procedural error happened!
[but even further into the nit-picking minutia of some versions of parliamentary procedure- if a COC was a legislative body and not a legislative advisory body (doesn't make its own rules) it could "suspend the rules" and allow a non-member to introduce/but not vote on/ a motion]
Sigh - 2% for Public Art and 2% for Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems ? Maybe the new Board should actually be setting the priorities, rather than the Architects and DO.