In our school system, who works for whom?
In my previous column, the “informational briefing for candidates” running for the Board of County Commissioners was discussed. While this program has its own issues, it pales in comparison to that run by the Frederick County Board of Education!
Under the school board’s Policy 100.9, the “Orientation Procedures” for candidates are outlined. This is only a three-page document, but deserves direct quoting so the reader can decide for themselves just who works for whom – does the superintendent work for the Board of Education or it is the other way round?
The superintendent will schedule one or more meetings open to all board of education candidates to help the candidates learn about Frederick County Public Schools. Topics to be discussed at the meetings may include such topics as operational and capital budgets, curriculum, federal and state legal requirements, and BOE policy and administrative regulations. After the filing deadline for the board of education election, the superintendent will contact all candidates in writing and will invite them to these meetings.
For the system, participants at the meetings shall include the superintendent and members of his staff that he or she deems necessary, and board of education members who are not current candidates. The meeting will be open to all candidates, including current board members who are current candidates, as well as interested members of the public. Members of the public may observe the meeting, but shall not participate, so that the time can be used to focus on the questions from the candidates.
Consider what topics “may” be discussed and what staff will be included? This is totally under the discretion of the superintendent so the “right” information can be given!
After the election, the new representatives for us taxpayers will be given the following:
Much information about the school system, including board policies and administrative procedures of the superintendent, is accessed through the FCPS web site. The administrative director will help the newly elected members access this information. Some information is not available electronically, and the administrative director will provide hard copies of such information, on request, including the following items:
1. Master plans – education programs, facilities, maintenance
2. Current and previous operating and capital budgets
3. Collective bargaining agreements
4. Current audit reports
5. Calendar Handbook and fact sheet
6. Staff directory
Consider what is NOT available electronically – “education programs,” “operating and capital budgets,” “audit reports,” et al. How in this day and age can these things NOT be available electronically – unless there may be some intention behind this situation?
Consider how time is determined – once again, who works for whom?
The new member may also meet with and ask questions of the superintendent but should refrain from asking the superintendent for extensive amounts of information without first clearing the request with the board at a meeting. There is time set aside at each meeting for the board to discuss new topics, and the new member is welcome to raise any issues at that time. All members should refrain from asking staff for extensive information. The staff will prepare reports and obtain such information upon direction from the superintendent or a board committee.
New members better realize what they are facing with respect to the staff they are elected to direct. The current Board of Education and Frederick County Public Schools staff has an alliance which has engendered these kinds of erroneous relationships – if you desire a change in how the current school system works, this type of rapport must be changed!
Finally, if you click on the link to this document, you will note this is not Board of Education approved, but rather approved by the superintendent. How is it the school board allows staff to determine how our representatives interact with them? Again, who works for whom?
We must choose our candidates and new members wisely! As I have already promoted Brad Young for this position, it is probably time to name the others who strike me as having the ability to take on this overbearing staff. While you can only choose four, my leading candidates list includes five potential candidates at this time.
Colleen E. Cusimano
Barrie S. Ciliberti
Please take the time to learn about these people! Donna Crook has been our only advocate for many years – she needs good people to side with her and break the shenanigans.