Board Behavior Subject of Discussion

School board strife continues to be a topic of discussion at the board table.

At Tuesday's meeting, Trustee Craig Hoeft said the start of the school year is an exciting time. He cautioned school board members to be mindful of what they are at the table to do.

"I like to remind myself at this time of year what my job is. It's the kids in the district. So I would like to remind the rest of the board that that's out job -- the kids in the district," Hoeft said. "In fact, I'd like to see a sign when you come in that door that says, 'Please check your egos and personal agendas here.' And then we come in here and we take care of business."

Hoeft's comments drew applause from members of the audience and from members of the board.

Hoeft did not elaborate on his comment, only adding that he'd been thinking about making similar remarks for quite awhile.

At the end of the meeting, Saline Education Association President Juan Lauchu was more pointed in comments he made. Lauchu started by saying that morale was high. He said the the back-to-school speeches to staff given by Superintendent Scot Graden and by board members Lisa Slawson and Chuck Lesch were well received. Lauchu went on to say that teachers were eager to participate in district initiatives, such as the proposed strategic planning process. Lauchu talked about a change in culture that has been brought about by efforts from administrators in the buildings and the district office.

Lauchu called on the board to change the way it works together.

"We all see a clear separating line between advocates and political agendas," Lauchu said, before telling Trustees David Zimmer and David Holden they were missed at the opening day ceremonies in the school. "Some of the things, you have to be there. Because that shows a little bit of support and maybe becoming an advocate."

Following Lauchu's remarks, Trustee Todd Carter left the board table and defended the board from the public speaker's microphone.

"Despite what Mr. Lauchu just said, our board is finally coming together," Carter said. "From just having these conversations at the table, it is showing that we are not afraid to speak our minds. As a team comes together it is forming and storming and then norming and then performing. I think we're moving out of the storming phase into the norming and performing stage."

This year, the board has watched minor issues, such as spending on Michigan Association of School Board training, generate headlines in many local publications.

At the same time, the board has managed to win major concessions from unions at the bargainning table to avoid layoffs and privatization while balancing the budget and eliminating the structural deficit.

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