Ok, Where Do We Go From Here?

Clarification: Miles is now bellowing that the contracts have not been signed. Correct. The new contracts themselves haven’t been signed but the resolution to issue those contracts was.

It was approved 4-2 and endorsed by the BOE at a March 28 special meeting on unanimous recommendation from the All Boards Committee (ABC). For those who got the wrong impression, the better choice of words in the italicized sentence would have been “approved” rather than “signed” since the BOE has signed off on the resolution and not the physical contracts.

But don’t let this argument over semantics detract from the main point. The fact remains that we find ourselves in a terrible bind. Sure, the BOE could try to renegotiate contracts that it has already approved, but it continues to risk expensive litigation or a mass exodus of administrators from the central office. Come to think of it, isn’t that what Miles wants: a mass exodus of administrators?

* * * * *

For my Northwest Corner peeps, my take on the failure of the Region One budget last night …

So those who were outraged at the new administrative contracts got their wish. The regional school budget was defeated 570-472, while two capital projects were approved. The opposition block was a strange alliance between a bumbling egomaniacal radio host and taxpayers of Falls Village. In the latter case, residents of that town were already angry at the Region One BOE because most of its members had ostracized the town’s outspoken representative, Gale Toensing.

And was it just coincidence that, at the eleventh hour, word leaked out that “an administrator” had told Region One employees to vote for the budget or they could lose their jobs? On little more than hearsay, radio host Marshall Miles reported the culprit was Director of Pupil Services Carl Gross. Did Miles make an attempt to contact Gross about the allegation? Obviously not. If Miles is wrong and Gross didn’t threaten any Region One employees, then he should hire a lawyer and sue Miles for defamation because such an accusation is clearly actionable if untrue.

In addition, Miles allowed unsubstantiated comments on his blog, purportedly from an HVRHS student, that Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain “asked students to vote yes for the budget.” That is a very serious accusation and, absent any evidence that it’s true, Miles was grossly irresponsible to have published the comment.

Ok, so now that your wish has come true, what exactly do you propose the board do now? If Facebook and Miles’ hideous blog (started solely for the purpose of defeating that budget) are any guide, almost everyone who voted no now wants those contracts to be voided.

Unfortunately, this vote was more about emotion than anything else – and emotions aren’t helpful in making a clear-headed decision on how to vote. People wanted to send a message to the BOE about the administrative contracts, but they’ve already been signed approved and ratified, so the no vote effectively accomplishes nothing but forcing us to spend thousands of dollars on another referendum and perhaps cut programs.

If the contractual procedure troubled me, then I’d say the proper course of action would be to vote out of office those board members who approved the new contracts. But there are no elections until next year, so venting over the budget remains the only recourse.

If board members vote to nullify the contracts, they will surely face multiple lawsuits, all defended at public expense. So I would put the ball in the court of the no-voters. What would you like the BOE to do now that you have spoken? Be realistic and specific now.

P.S. I’m proud to say I live in the one of the three towns that approved the budget.

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  • ctdevilsadvocate

    Apparently, I left the one reader on Facebook with the wrong impression. Here was my response:

    I never said or even suggested that anyone who voted against the budget did so mindlessly in response to anyone in the media. I know plenty of people that I respect who voted against it (e.g. Ed Epstein, Lou Timolat, you). I live in this district and have two children in it, one at the high school, so I actually talk to lots of people in person.

    I will tell you this. There are at least 10,000 eligible voters in the region and the budget lost by less than 100 votes. Sometimes a loud-mouth with a megaphone can be enough to tip the balance. I’ve seen it happen before. If you don’t believe that, then there’s not much I can say or do to convince you. As for whether my blog post is “journalism,” it’s obviously not. It’s my assessment of the situation and it does not pretend to be anything else. And if it comes across as a “personal vendetta” to you, then so be it. Do you support the spreading of scurrilous rumors about public officials the day before the referendum? Reputations are on the line here. Innocent people are being harmed because of one person. And yes, that makes the situation personal. Sorry if you are offended.

  • Allyn1

    In essence what you are saying is that there is no need for the tax payers to vote in this democratic society?

    • Terry Cowgill

      Not really. I just think voting against the budget because you don’t like the admin contracts is the wrong approach. If you don’t like those contracts, then vote the school board members who approved them out of office.

    • ctdevilsadvocate

      Not really. I just think voting against the budget because you don’t like the admin contracts is the wrong approach. If you don’t like those contracts, then vote the school board members who approved them out of office. That’s what I would do.