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MVSD board disagrees on public input session

Public speaks out on MVSD’s hiring of attorney for negotiations

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— “Are you going to say the Pledge of Allegiance?” patron John Warford of Grangeville asked as soon as the June 18 Mountain View School District board meeting was called to order.

“Please, just give us a minute,” chairman Mike Dominguez of Kooskia said to Warford.

Following this, Dominguez asked the audience to stand for the pledge.

At the previous month’s meeting, Warford questioned why it was not started with the pledge.

No explanation was given for the addition.

Board agrees unanimously on non-resident applications

“My problem with these out-of-district people is they don’t pay taxes to our school district and some of them don’t even own property where they live,” Mountain View School District 244 trustee Casey Smith, Clearwater, said at the June 18 board meeting.

The board was considering approximately 60 out-of-district student applications. The year prior, that number was almost 80.

“Two years ago, we had so many extra kids we had to hire another teacher. Is it worth that?” Casey asked.

Board vice-chair Lot Smith of Grangeville said about 30 kids from Kooskia went to Kamiah schools last year, so those families are paying taxes in MVSD but whose kids are not educated here.

“Many of these students are also kids of current teachers in our district,” said board chair Mike Dominguez, Kooskia. “It’s a slap in their face to tell them, ‘yes, you’re good enough to teach in our district, but your kids cannot go here.’”

“I just find it hypocritical when they promote the levy but don’t pay for it,” Casey said.

Business manager Becky Hogg explained the extra students last year generated nearly $100,000 plus four teachers and part of a principal position (all from the state).

“So, they aren’t costing us anything; they are actually benefitting us,” Hogg said.

“Well, all you had to do was tell me that,” Casey smiled.

The board voted unanimously to accept the applications with the exception of two for confidential reasons.

“We will now go into a 20-minute community input session and answer questions to the best of our ability,” Dominguez started.

“I disagree,” trustee Rebecca Warden, Grangeville, interrupted. “I don’t believe you can make that decision on behalf of the entire board.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the law says I can – the agenda is set by the superintendent and me,” Dominguez said.

Warden explained she is not trying to discourage public discourse but feels the concept may set the board up to hear only one side of a story.

“I would personally like to see the questions submitted beforehand, at least a week ahead, so we can prepare,” she explained. This would also give the chance to see that protocol was followed as far as going first to a building administrator for resolution or answers.

“I like that idea,” vice-chair Lot Smith of Grangeville said. “I’m the first to admit we don’t know everything.”

Dominguez apologized, stating he thought as board chair he had the right to set the agenda.

District business manager Becky Hogg explained those items are usually outlined during the annual meeting, which is held in July.

“I will definitely be pushing for that open public input discussion time during next month’s meeting,” Dominguez said.

Following this, several people spoke who had signed up for regular public input (three-minute time allotment) including the following:

*Michelle Fabbi, Clearwater Valley Elementary School (CVES) teacher: ”I have lived here for 17 years and it’s my seventh year teaching. I feel the district is irresponsibly spending thousands on a lawyer [for negotiations]. We have out-of-date textbooks and broken chairs. Please consider the best interests of the school district.”

*Jordan Hagen, CVES teacher: “Please look closely at the salary schedule [during negotiations]. There are employees coming in with less experience and education than I have who are earning $5,000 or more than I do.”

*Dan Fabbi, patron: “I take exception to what board member Casey Smith [Clearwater] said at the last board meeting about out-of-district enrollment applications as far as those parents being ‘deadbeats’ and ‘freeloaders.’ I feel this is unprofessional and out of line. Most of these people still pay taxes. I feel this was a personal attack on people and feel the board should be above this. Many of the applications for out-of-district enrollments are from students of CV teachers. I believe even Mr. Smith’s kids and grandkids are educated at CV. I would like to see an apology. This is a stain on the board.

*Kim Simmons, CV teacher: “I am one of those ‘deadbeats’ or ‘freeloaders’ from Kamiah. Many people want to send their kids to CV for its known educational excellence. I also object to the hiring of a high-priced attorney [for negotiations].”

*John Warford, patron: “This is the third meeting I have asked. I would like to know what sort of repercussions are in store for the teachers who participated in the walk-out earlier this year?”

“Didn’t you meet with Mr. Warford on this?” Lot Smith asked superintendent Marc Scheibe.

“Yes,” Scheibe answered. “I explained our teachers were there in a supervisory role for those 17 minutes and they would not be reprimanded for providing the guidance we asked them to provide.”

In his report, Scheibe also made clear the attorney, Scott Morotz of Boise, hired for negotiations receives $175 an hour.

“The amount has been greatly exaggerated,” Lot Smith said. “We have always had an attorney present at negotiations.”

Smith explained in the past, MVSD had an attorney on retainer for upwards of $18,000 a year, “whether or not they did anything.”

“We have acted responsibly in our decision to hire an hourly attorney and this move will save the district money in the long-run,” he stated.

The next board meeting is set for Monday, July 16, 5:30 p.m., Grangeville.



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