Secrecy - A + Openness, Transparency - F
School Board Flunks Transparency Test
By: Pat Hunter
November 19, 2008
The School Board budgets about $10,000 yearly for membership dues. The Loudon County School Board is a member of the Tennessee School Board Association - TSBA. The TSBA represents most school boards, statewide. Every year, the TSBA proposes various Resolutions, and this year is no different. Eighteen Resolutions are proposed to be voted on by 300 delegates early this week. If approved, the Resolutions would be sent to state lawmakers for the upcoming General Assembly Legislative Session.
At Thursday's Nov. 13th School Board meeting before four school board members (Delegates) and Director Honeycutt were about to slip away to Opryland TSBA junket, board member D-5 Van Shaver tried to bring up 18 proposed TSBA Resolutions for public discussion, to no avail.
Click video clip to see Van Shaver asked School Board members, shouldn't we have input on these Resolutions some are pretty important like giving taxing Authority to School Boards that could lead to legislative action. The names of the 4 delegates (below) were confirmed by Director Honeycutt after the School Board meeting.
Click Proposed 2009 TSBA Resolutions pdf
Some of the TSBA Resolutions included:
∑ The TSBA urges State lawmakers to take appropriate steps to provide School Boards with taxing authority. (Resolution 16)
∑ Appointing Directors of Schools. (Resolution 2)
∑ Funding the 2nd phase-in of the Basic Education Program (BEP) 2.0. (Resolution 3)
∑ To clearly permit random drug testing of students who participate in voluntary extracurricular activities. (Resolution 5)
∑ To appropriate excess lottery funds for school construction. (Resolution 11)
∑ To extend public higher education tuition 25 percent discounts to children of school board members. (Resolution 12)
Why didnít the School Board want to discuss these issues in public?
Prior to the Oct. 16th School Board meeting, Director Wayne Honeycutt distributed a TSBA Agenda to the Opryland Convention, Delegate information and Resolution 16, School Board Taxing Authority. Yet, on three different occasions, Director Wayne Honeycutt managed to skirt open discussion about the proposed Resolutions including School Board Taxing Authority.
Click to view Video Clip - Bill Marcus - if what has been discussed here generally is that there are those who don't think that we ought to go and some of those are the ones who think that this is very important that these delegates are told how to vote. No school board member should feel as if he or she is unaccountable to the public. Marcus voted to cut out travel back in June during budget cuts and before the election. Then after he narrowly won re-election, months later, he back-peddled on his word and voted to attend the junket. See related stories: Public Trust & Confidence Travel Restored Ė BOE votes for $10,000 trip to Opryland
Shaver spoke out but he was one lone voice. New School Board member Lisa Russell sat and watched but did not offer one word of support to Van Shaver. Bobby Johnson, Jr. and Scott Newman didn't support Van Shaver, either.
Lenoir City bureaucrat, school board member Steve Harrelson didn't think that the School Board should discuss or go through the Resolutions and try to tell the delegates how to vote.
Video Clip Van Shaver made a final appeal and he asked School Director Honeycutt and Chairman Leroy Tate, to make the call for discussion of the Resolutions. Honeycutt chewed his gum and waved his hand and Chairman Leroy Tate gave School Board members a chance to say something and none did!
Resolution 16 will provide for School Boards to have the same taxing authority as county commission. Resolution 16 would then go to state lawmakers for a vote. Resolution 16 calls for a change to the Tennessee Constitution. (More information to follow)
With the exception of Van Shaver, the School Board seemed content to send Bill Marcus, Scott Newman, Leroy Tate and Gary Ubbens to the TSBA convention and let them vote as they please rather than have a public discussion, take a formal position and vote. These are the same officials that want you to pay over $100 Million for schools, when it seems that they could care less about keeping you informed about matters that may affect you in a very serous way.
Note: As stated previously in the BOE Report Card, D-7 Tellico Village Craig Simon was absent.
Taxpayers - Keep them in the dark and feed them horse manure just like mushrooms