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West Geauga's odd man out can't get a second
West Geauga's odd man out can't get a second
By SUE HOFFMAN
West Geauga School Board member Michael Kilroy made motions to put two items on the agenda at last week's board meeting, but they were not seconded by any of the other four school board members.
In addition, two residents voiced their concern about recent letters to newspapers written by Mr. Kilroy.
His first motion was to discuss the superintendent's goals for the district's state rank. "I believe that is a subject worthy of public discussion," Mr. Kilroy said, citing a decline in state rank from the top 25 districts in 2003 to 58th.
School board member Kathy Leavenworth said the evaluation of the superintendent is a subject for discussion in executive session.
Mr. Kilroy's second motion was to purchase new Dell classroom computers. He said that Dell was offering a price break that he was concerned would not be available if the board waited too long.
School board member Sally Gilmore said she would not second that motion, because she believes that Superintendent Anthony Podojil "already has the authority" to place the order.
Dr. Podojil said he needs to know how the state budget, which is to be approved by June 30, impacts the district before making the purchase.
School board President William Beers said after the meeting, "The superintendent's goals are part of his evaluation and compensation," which may be discussed in executive session according to the Ohio Revised Code. "What Mr. Kilroy may be thinking about are the goals we as a board and the superintendent establish for the district. These must be and are part of a public discussion," he said.
Such a discussion has taken place in strategic planning, which involves community members and parents as well as school officials and staff, Mr. Beers said.
Dr. Podojil said six goals were developed during the appreciative inquiry process of strategic planning, and committees have been formed to create action plans during the upcoming school year. In addition, the district has been part of an initial state cohort group to raise the percentage of students passing state achievement tests, he said. "Each building has leadership teams looking at test data to increase academic performance," he said, which is part of the Ohio Improvement Process.
Regarding the district's rank, Dr. Podojil said the number of standards used by the state has risen from 16 in 2003 to 30. "We have always ranked in the top 10 percent of 614 districts," he said.
What's important, Dr. Podojil said, is "for each individual kid to perform up to his or her capabilities on the test."
Mr. Kilroy said later that he was "frustrated and aggravated" by the board's response. "It was as if it never existed," he said of his motions.
Regarding the drop in school ranking, he said, "This not only impacts and reflects the deterioration of our children's education but impacts where people move to when looking for good school districts. It impacts new construction negatively which reduces our tax base for education. It is a vicious cycle downward if ignored."
In a letter to the editor, he wrote, "I can never get another board member to second my requests, not even just for 'discussion.'" He began and concluded his letter with references to the November elections. "If you think fresh ideas and fresh faces are good for the board, please run for election," he wrote.
Mr. Beers and Ms. Gilmore are running for re-election in November. Mr. Kilroy, Ms. Leavenworth and Dean Patterson are in the second year of their four-year terms.
The other four school board members responded to Mr. Kilroy's letter in a separate letter to the editor. When Mr. Kilroy has brought up subjects "in a meeting at inappropriate times and without background information for all concerned, we have referred them to committee for discussion," they wrote.
"We haven't responded to each point yet," Mr. Beers said, referring to Mr. Kilroy's letter, which raised issues ranging from technology to district ranking and five-year forecast. "I believe we will do that since we were specifically asked for that at the June 8th board meeting by community members."
"I'm extremely upset about what's been in the papers," Bernard Mandel, of Russell, told the board. He said he also was disappointed that Mr. Kilroy was not present for his comments.
Mr. Kilroy told the board members and said he had informed them before the meeting that he was leaving early to attend his daughter's graduation from eighth grade.
"Over and over and over again, it's like Mr. Kilroy is running for office," Mr. Mandel said. "His negativism is hurting us in this community."
He said the board should address all of the items that Mr. Kilroy raised. He disputed Mr. Kilroy's assertion that the district was not saving money on salaries, since the percentage increases were well below other districts. "I don't understand why that's not a savings," he said.
Regarding goals, Mr. Mandel said, "If Dr. Podojil had any goal, except No. 1, I'd be astounded and disappointed."
He also addressed the lack of seconding Mr. Kilroy's motions to bring them on the agenda. "If you didn't have Robert's Rules of Order, this place would be chaotic." Mr. Mandel said the lack of a second motion for Mr. Kilroy's items during the meeting was because "they were technically wrong."
Ms. Leavenworth said the school board wrote its response letter to the editor after David Hancock, of Chester, requested the board to do that at the last meeting in May.
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