I attended the Cherokee School Board meeting March 21 and was shocked by the behavior of board member Kelly Marlow and her failure to focus on the real priorities of the school district.
Prior to most meetings, the board holds a work session during which the superintendent gives updates about relevant topics. The board asks questions and engages in dialogue.
A major topic March 21 was the 2013-14 budget and, among other negative projections, that $26.6 million in state “austerity” cuts will continue; the only state funding increase is for enrollment growth; the local tax digest will likely remain flat; and reserves are dangerously low. As a result, the board is considering privatization of custodians and groundskeepers and alternative health plans for 1,700 non-certified employees.
At the board meeting that followed, Ms. Marlow focused on: 1) a change in which version of Robert’s Rules of Order is used in meetings, which was easily resolved; and 2) a change to board policy to state that agenda request forms include a dollar amount. While this request was fairly insipid, the discussion that followed was anything but.
The superintendent, school board attorney and board chair spent over half an hour explaining to Ms. Marlow where the information she wanted could be found; and why her request, as written, would overburden an already short-staffed central office.
Board member Michael Geist also spoke up, finding reason to agree with the superintendent’s suggested wording change. There was no input from other board members.
This is where Ms. Marlow’s vendetta against the superintendent becomes apparent. She repeatedly asked “Who writes the agenda?” and was reminded it is the superintendent, that this was covered in her new board member training and that the agenda is titled, “Superintendent’s Recommended Agenda.”
Marlow was upset the superintendent could bring a suggested revision to her item, and she was reminded that this is in line with policy. After Marlow called the superintendent “out of order” for doing this, she again questioned who writes the agenda, stating, “I don’t even know what my role is.”
I can answer that: Her role is to have the best interests of Cherokee County School District students as the basis for what she wants to accomplish. With budget cuts and other real issues our board faces, her spending the bulk of a meeting arguing when a workable compromise was suggested was unconscionable.