School Board Meeting Stumbles Through Six Hours
By Brandi Makuski and Donnelly Clare
The Stevens Point School Board spent six hours addressing its 235- page packet Monday, but not before complaints about meeting length led to three failed votes to adjourn early, three board members left before the meeting’s conclusion, a series of testy exchanges and postponing several items until the board’s next meeting.
A much-anticipated presentation on a new charter school was postponed until next Monday. The board was to consider and possibly approve funding for an Expeditionary Learning Charter School, proposed to be housed at Jackson Elementary.
“We’d love if you could table this until (next) Monday,” said Jen Zach when approaching the speaker’s podium around 11:30 PM. Zach, who was to lead the presentation, is one member of the charter school’s governing body.
“We’d like to present when everyone’s fresh and focused,” she added.
Board Member Kim Shirek had made the same motion moments before but her suggestion was voted down. Only after Zach’s request did the board approve tabling the item.
The board did make time to discuss purchasing and procurement policy as well as a grant from Sentry Insurance to fund electronic devices for students and increase the district’s bandwidth. The board also approved agreements with the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club for including additional educational elements to afterschool programs in cooperation with teachers of students identified as needing extra help.
But it was communication protocals which concerned Board Member Jeff Presley, who said more than once he was concerned with decisions made by Superintedent Attila Weninger and others at Bliss without afore knowledge of the board, as well as his belief that closed- session meeting information is being leaked back to Weninger. Presley asked for the issue to be placed on a future meeting agenda for board discussion.
Weninger asked Presley for a specific instance where closed- session information was leaked to his office, but Presley declined to provide an example, saying he wasn’t comfortable giving the details just yet.
“Are you saying this as a point of fact, or it this your presumption?” Weninger asked Presley.
“Well, we can’t discuss that because it’s not on the agenda (tonight),” Presley replied.
“Oh, that’s transparent,” said Weninger.
Moments later, Presley sarcastically thanked Weninger for that comment, to which Weninger replied, “Oh, you’re welcome.”
Monday’s meeting adjourned at about 12:30 AM Tuesday. The school board meets again next Monday at 6:30 PM at Bliss Education Center, 1900 Polk Street.