Accountability, Budget

Shit, Meet Fan

Pardon my language, but sometimes no other words will do.

JCPS school board meetings are long and tedious, filled with acronyms and monotonous educational doublespeak. So it’s easy to understand how a series of events from this past Tuesday night’s meeting might have been missed by our general public, and possibly even by many of the people in the auditorium. Unless you were paying close attention throughout the meeting, and picked up on some of the body language and careful volleys, you might have missed the shit that went down. But down it did go.

I hinted on my personal Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon that the shit was hitting the fan. But, since I have bills to pay, and being a public education bulldog is a volunteer thing, it took me until midnight Friday night to download the board meeting video and parse out the juicy turds for your dining pleasure. But here they are. Sorry for the delay and suspense.

Earlier in the meeting, Ms. Horne states that she has concerns that items on the consent agenda aren’t always as they seem. When items indicate that they are a money donation, she says she should be able to trust that they are a money donation and not a personal service contract or some other in-kind donation. Seems reasonable. “Are … each of the items … something you will stand behind as being true?” Superintendent says, “absolutely.”

The fan has been turned on.

Later, Horne’s body language when she asks to add an evaluation of the superintendent to the planning calendar indicates she has clearly put her shit-wading boots on. I added this clip because it was just so enjoyable to watch.

Aaaand here comes the proverbial shit.

Later in the meeting, Horne brings up her concerns regarding a budgeting process meeting that principals were invited to that she says the board had not approved. “The board approved a money donation in September, but not actually the consultant that is in our schools.” While she supports budget planning, she notes that she has a problem with this particular activity because it was done without board’s approval. “It’s a truthfulness issue,” and brings up an “ethical dilemma.” She goes on to compare this event to the recent misrepresentation with the Everyone Reads program. “I do want to express that to the JCPS community. I will try to be a better watchdog.”

Vice-chair Porter then provides an opportunity for general counsel to respond, who advises that he had reviewed the item and saw no legal issues with it. Horne seizes another opportunity to point out that having the board’s attorney reviewing contracts and also advising the board is a conflict of interest. “I see it as a legal conflict and I’m very concerned about the independence of our general counsel.”

Hargens interjects with “just to be clear … “, which only makes my bullshit radar go off even more. Honestly, I didn’t learn anything new from her “clarification.” If anything, it only confirmed Horne’s concerns and raised my suspicions.

Please watch the videos and let me know what you think. Maybe this story is not a big deal, but my spidey senses tell me otherwise. And, you might want to make sure you have your raincoats on at the next board meeting, because it could get messy in the front rows. (Think Gallagher!)

By the way, the budget consultant they are referring to is with District Management Council, who was featured in this article last October, “Cashing In on Special-Needs Kids.” #NowAreYouStartingToGetIt?

I appreciate Steph Horne for calling out her concerns and holding our district administrators accountable. She is my shero! Stay tuned!!

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