Tavares, FL Jan. 9, 2017
The first 2017 meeting of the Lake County, FL School District Board is tonight at 6pm. Several items in the "consent" section of the agenda should be discussed by the Administration and the Board to provide transparency, but instead, by being in the "consent" agenda, they will get approved without discussion unless a Board member "pulls" the agenda item for discussion. Or, a member of the public could turn in a public input card at the beginning of the meeting and specify one or more agenda items be pulled for discussion.
The LCSD agenda's, unlike the County agendas, never include the "fiscal impact" or cost in the short agenda. Thus to find out costs for an item or maximum budget levels, a reader would have to go to the online DETAILED agenda page, find the item, and read the overview or click on the attachments to see if they even discuss costs.
Here are agenda items the public should hear Board members or staff justify in the meeting, and not be buried without discussion:
T-08.8 - Renewal of contract for School Board counsel (Attorney) - This issue caused an eruption among some parents on Facebook. There was misinformation about costs and issues. Generally, the existing external attorney is capable and experienced. The quoted per hour rate of $175 is probably lower than market rate, and there is no increasing scale to charge more for higher level managers or partners. However, the issue of only using an external attorney, or for going outside for competitive bidding "to check the market" should be considered. The Attorney reports to the BOARD, so the Board should consider having a workshop after the new Superintendent is on board and determine if it makes sense to hire an internal staff attorney for routine matters directed by the Superintendent while still using the external attorney for higher level issues.
T09.05 - The would be an automatic approval for a new administrative "Leader" position and should be justified in public with Board discussion.
T10.05 & T10.06 - The same person is being sent for one trip to San Diego, then to Boston for several days for "AVID" training costing about $1500 per trip. Why two trips? Why so far? AVID is a Board approved program, so my question - aren't there any more local sessions available? It seems there are various trips taken to the West Coast, and I would like to see the Board ask why there are no east coast or Florida locations for such purposes? I worked in organizations where we mostly went to regional meetings for training, not across the country.
T-10.11 & T-10.12 - Both of these are long distance trips for outgoing Superintendent Moxley. When Dr. Moxley is retiring and will be out of management duties in March, why is she still going on multiple day conference trips? One is in January to NEW YORK JUST for Dr. Moxley, without the new Superintendent, and the other trip is to San Francisco in March, but does include the new Superintendent. Supertinendent Moxley, with a C level ranked school district history, should not be authorized to make these trips when the new Superintendent takes over in March. Only the new Superintendent should go to them if she considers them worthwhile. In seeing these planned trips for an outgoing Superintendent, I keep thinking of how Obama is rushing to make vacations, trips, laws and pardons before he goes out of office.
By being in the consent agenda, the above items would not be discussed in the Board meeting, and the public would not see the Board justifying such decisions. Each of them should be pulled and the Board discuss them in public.
Agenda Discussion Items 11.01-11.07 - These items ARE scheduled for the Board to discuss in public in the meeting:
Agenda items 11.04, 11.05 and 11.06 are discussions about the contract and appointment of Diane Kornegay as the new Superintendent starting officially on January 18. I am not going to comment on terms or wages because there is a lot that went on to negotiate them, so I assume they are fair. I can hardly wait for the new Superintendent to start. She will start just TWO DAYS before TRUMP, so it will be a good year!
Item 11.07 is a review of the "Legislative Liaison Process" WHICH I THINK MEANS use of a paid lobbyist, probably the same one used by the County Board. THERE IS NO INFORMATION ABOUT THIS ITEM IN THE AGENDA DETAILS. Since there is little time until the Florida legislature meets, this was discussed at an earlier meeting, and makes sense, but a future workshop should be held to define attributes needed in a lobbyist, and measurable performance expectations. I was at the Lake County Board when the proposed lobbyist (I assume) was selected by Welton Cadwell, Jimmy Conner and Sean Parks by over riding the full rfp process that had taken place. I have been told the lobbyist did find one item where the County staff screwed up and almost missed a deadline for consideration for an item, but after the lobbyist corrected an administrative goof, it did receive funding last year. There are lots of opinions on this, so the Board should go ahead with this LATE PLANNED action to get a lobbyist, and ensure the new Superintendent is involved immediately in setting direction for the lobbyist since she was an active lobbyist for her school district in Clay County.
I encourage readers to follow local government meetings and agendas like this oen. Pick one agency, and follow them. Attend meetings. Give input. Post on Facebook. All government is local and you get what you elect and act upon.
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