January 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM
SPARTA, NJ- The rescheduled work session of the Sparta Board of Education started on an unusual note on Thursday night. Brenda Beebe, Richard Bladek and Kim Yeomans had, via email, refused their committee assignments. Board officials cannot recall this having ever happened before.
The agenda stated, " Mrs. Beebe, Mr. Bladek and Mrs. Yeomans refused to serve on their appointed committee and/or delegate assignments." Beebe had changed her mind before to the meeting, agreeing to serve on the Finance Committee.
Prior to hearing the committee reports, President Karen Scott read a statement that discussed her rationale and the principles behind which she made the committee assignments.
According to Board Policy, Bylaw 0155, section 2; "The committee chairperson and members shall be appointed by the Board President." Scott stated, "I did not take this assignment lightly, nor did I do it with any malice."
Scott continued. "As President, I sought guidance from our Chief School Administrator [Dennis Tobin] and from the New Jersey School Boards Association." She went on to quote from School Boards' manual, How to Have Successful School Board Meetings. "A successful school board meeting is a tribute to the willingness of members to subordinate their self-interest to the needs of the group. Board members soon learn that their individual rights mean little unless the entire board succeeds."
Quoting further, "A school board member does not represent a particular area, interest, or group. Each member must work for the welfare of all the children in the district and base decisions on what is best for the total community rather than a particular area, vested interest group or organization."
Concluding her statement, Scott stated, "With this being said, it is my hope that, going forward, the members who were elected through a democratic process to this board, will now do the work that their supporters have entrusted them to do. We are not elected to a particular committee we are elected to the Board of Education."
Her remarks were met with applause from the approximate one dozen audience members.
Sparta Board of Education operates as a 'board of committees'. Simplified, this means issues are discussed in committee. The committee then makes a recommendation to the full board regarding the issues. After opportunity for public discussion, the full board then votes to support the committee recommendation or not.
Each committee has a lead Administrator and a board member Chairperson. Up to three board members can be assigned to a committee. Currently the committees are Curriculum, Finance, Operations and Personnel. There are additional Ad Hoc committees and various liaison positions as well.
The committee assignments that Bladek and Yoemans have refused were not made public.
Neither Bladek nor Yoemans attended the meeting on Thursday. Yoemans had previously stated she would be out of town. Bladek first committed to attend then, just prior to the meeting, said work commitment would not allow him to make the 7:30 p.m. meeting.
The next Regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 27 at 7:30 in the auditorium of Mohawk Avenue School.