‘Consent Agenda’ Neglected Public

RICHLAND — The Tuesday night meeting of the Richland 2 School Board was led by newly elected officers: Bill Fleming, Chairman; Susan Brill remained Vice-Chairman; and Melinda Anderson, Secretary.

The board adopted a new voting procedure they called ‘Consent Agenda,’ whereby agenda items are grouped together and voted on by title only. Multiple items can be approved by a single vote. But transparency is key for this to remain an honest piece of work. When agenda items are voted on by title only and the content as to what the item is about has not been made available to the public, no one knows what has been voted on. When this was mentioned to Brill after the meeting, she said she would bring this up at the next meeting.

Three years ago, Superintendent Katie Brochu commissioned a $150,000 study, called The Evergreen Study, on the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the District. The study was released several months later amid considerable controversy. An update of the Study was to be presented at the meeting by Sue Melette, Director of Academics. The update turned out to be verbal with no written report. As the verbal presentation progressed, Board member James Manning questioned why there was no documentation for Board members. After some discussion between Manning and Brochu, Flemming asked that the presentation be tabled until supporting documents could be made available.

Jack Carter, Director of Operations, reported that within days of the Sandy Hook, Conn. school shooting, every school in the district had reviewed established emergency procedures. Carter said this is the only school district in the state that employs an internal security staff of 20 officers.

It was proposed to fund several projects with the District’s Reserve (savings) account. These include the new Center For Knowledge magnet program for elementary students at Muller Road Middle School, the STEMS magnet for middle schoolers at Summit Parkway and athletic renovations at RNE and Ridge View high schools. Approval of these projects is expected at the next Board meeting. However, the two magnet programs have already been advertised to parents and are part of the current magnet application process due to be completed at the end of the month.

The next Board meeting will be Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. at E. L. Wright Middle School. To request an agenda, call 787-1910.