3rd Motion Was The Charm!
Updated: Mar 28
Well, for those who watched the board meeting on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, there was a recurring theme, up until the very end of the night. That theme was the fact that I couldn’t even get a SECOND for my motions to initiate a discussion amongst board members for the issues that were at hand.
My first topic of discussion for my motion had to do with safety. (2hr.22 min) I made a motion to develop a policy in which board members are notified of incidents involving law enforcement, ambulance calls, or student/personnel altercations. MOTION DENIED AS I COULDN’T GET A SECOND.
The Board of Education is a team and we all need to work together with each other as well as the superintendent and administration of the board. When citizens of this county (OUR SUPERVISORS) contact me in regards to an incident, I want to be able to ensure the situation is being handled, not be hearing of the incident for the first time through potentially unreliable sources or hearsay.
My second topic of discussion for my motion had to do with the education budget (2hr 45 min).The budget was given to board members 3 days before our initial work session in early February. The “work session” was quick moving and as stated in the meeting minutes from February, 7th Mr. Tolbert, “provided an overview of the proposed FY24 expenditures by category.”
During the budget overview, Dr. Andes (District 3) asked 1 question in regards to the cost of energy and Mr. Ferrante (District 7) asked 1 question in regards to health insurance costs. I asked 2 questions in regards to the cost on updating iPads and about the bus contractors’ requests and when they would be finalized.
For a budget that encompasses over half of the overall county budget, just under $132 MILLION, there should have been more than 5 minutes of questions from the board members in February.
On Tuesday, I presented a motion that stated we table the vote on this budget for one to two weeks at which point we would have an emergency open work session to discuss all aspects of the budget in its entirety. I made clear that we owe it to the taxpayers of this county to be prudent with our decisions and to be fiscally responsible with their money.
This was not supported by the board as I could not get a second for this motion either. Board members indicated Mr. Tolbert has spent a lot of time preparing this budget. They stated I had over a month to get any questions answered and coming from the Superintendent, what I was proposing was a “waste of time.”
1. Demanding transparency and asking for additional time to make an educated, prudent decision is NOT a waste of time. In fact, I would argue that it would be the best time spent as a board to TRULY understand the inner workings of the most expensive budget in the county.
2. I have no doubt Mr. Tolbert spent a lot of time preparing this budget… that is, in fact, his job. I would hope that he spent a lot of time preparing this budget.
3. As stated at the board meeting, I easily could have sent emails or called Mr. Tolbert to answer my stack of questions, but then that would have taken a very important aspect out of this behind-the-scenes approach… My questions would not have been heard or answered in a public forum where the PUBLIC (my supervisors) could digest for themselves what is being heard. It is imperative to not only say we as a board are for full transparency, but to actually display and act on that stance.
4. Arguably the most important point: The Board of Education Members ridiculed me for not doing my homework, and simultaneously voted on a budget that did not have all questions answered. The role of the Board of Education is to be the CHECKS AND BALANCES to the Superintendent and to ensure he is executing his directions from the Board, via motions, made to his staff members. We are not to simply take what the administrators have to say at face value. Our job is to scrutinize the school system on behalf of the citizens of Worcester County.
The final motion made by myself the evening of March 21st had to do with sending a 2nd letter of opposition to the state for HB119/SB199 (3hrs 27min). Many counties across the state have written opposition letters for HB119 to the state. For those of you not following the bill, instead of listening to the constituents on how this bill tramples on the rights of Maryland citizens and local control, the legislators in the House led by Del. Atterbeary decided to AMEND the bill and make it notably worse.
Instead of this bill forcing each county to follow a health framework, they have amended the bill to control and punish counties that don’t comply with the demands of the state. Forcing local school boards to surrender their authority to the state, this bill enables the State Superintendent to punish local boards by taking away up to 20% of their funding from the state. This threat would only harm the students.
Never has the legislature or the appointed Superintendent demanded elected school boards what to teach, which comes down to curriculum and courses of study. The opt-out was also nullified in the amendment, as an opt-out must now meet the requirements and definition of the state (which could be anything). The votes of the citizens are undermined, which removes the rights for locals to determine the curriculum and courses of study. This is best left up to each local county who understands the needs of their communities.
I made a motion to send a strong 2nd letter to the state, to not only OPPOSE HB119/SB199, but to reject this bill in its entirety and to allow input and approval from board members before sending the letter to the state. And shockingly, I received a 2nd !
Dr. Andes 2nd my motion because of the stance MABE (Maryland Association for Boards of Education) has on the bill. MABE opposes this bill as well.
Ms. Elena McComas (District 5) couldn’t understand why I wanted to write a 2nd letter of opposition for the same bill when we already wrote once, and the majority of the state seemed to oppose the bill as well. She didn’t believe it would pass. I explained, because the bill has been amended, which has changed the verbiage of the bill in its entirety; it is virtually a brand new bill with the same bill number. The bill has passed in the house and is now in the Senate. Now, more than ever, we need to keep the pressure on our state senators and make sure this bill is not supported by local boards of education.
The motion was made, and the motion PASSED 6-1 with Elena McComas voting NO to writing a second letter.
3rd Motion was the charm!
Small wins are happening every day. I’ll take this motion passing as my win for Tuesday night! Thank you to all citizens who are staying involved with our local education system. Stay tuned for more updates!