Back in early February, Board Member Madhavi Sunder had requested a February hearing for the AIM program, but was overruled on a 3-2 vote by her colleagues, with Bob Poppenga joining her on the short side of the vote.
The issue was ultimately taken up in April, but there was concern expressed at the time that the delay would preclude making changes in time to implement them for the coming year.
While AIM has been a contentious issue that has polarized the current and former board, a more fundamental question arose at the meeting on Thursday during the normally non-controversial approval of the agenda.
Boardmember Bob Poppenga raised the issue, asking for “some clarification” on the issue of “proposing an agenda item.” He said, “In looking at the bylaws the process seems to me to be a little bit – not very clear – I think it could be interpreted in a couple different ways in terms of when an agenda item can be placed on a meeting and I just wonder how we go about requesting that the (bylaws) subcommittee look at that and give their interpretation…”
Board President Barbara Archer stated, “The board subcommittee is free to take up whatever board policy it likes.”
Bob Poppenga responded, “So you don’t need a motion, just suggest it to the subcommittee.” He added, “I think that would be good because I think that there’s some confusion in terms of the language.”
Madhavi Sunder added, “I think that’s something we need to look at. I just wanted to add that I’ve been very frustrated because I’ve twice as a trustee tried to make a written (request) pursuant to the bylaws to put items that are the board’s business on the agenda and have been denied twice and I know in both cases two trustees (requested it).
“I think we really need to clarify that policy as to how many trustees need to put a request in writing to get something on the agenda and what is exactly within the purview of the board president and Superintendent with respect to that.
“The board’s agenda is the entire board’s agenda,” she stated. “The only way we can do business together as a group is to have an item agendized to be able to talk about it. We’re not allowed to talk about it as a group unless it’s on the agenda.”
Madhavi Sunder went further, stating this is why she is not going to vote to approve the agenda at this time. “I don’t believe that the denial of requests was pursuant to the bylaws.”
Barbara Archer responded, “I had to have two weeks notice – which it did not.” She continued, “That’s what the bylaws say, two weeks written notice which there was not two weeks written notice.”
Ms. Sunder responded, “I’ve made my position clear. I’m not going to vote for approving tonight’s agenda.”
Alan Fernandes said, “I take your point and as a member of the board bylaw subcommittee I’m happy to agendize that and we will go through it. All policies probably could use a look and more clarification made if needed. I think that’s a good suggestion and it’s my intent to do that.”
Eventually the board approved their agenda by a 4-1 vote.
—David M. Greenwald reporting