Tram’s Rule Brings Ridicule – GPS Board Meeting 1/10/2012

Until conservatives Staci Burk and Shane Stapley were elected to the Governing Board and took office in January 2011, life for the other board members was smooth. Attend the meetings, vote yes on everything, go home early. That the board position paid zilch wasn’t too onerous. There was prestige, the illustrious addition to the resume, the fulfillment of the desire to be somebody.

And then everything changed… Shane and Staci, who wanted to do something about streamlining resources, improving efficiency, improving student learning, fostering more transparency, started asking questions.

They also started adding far too many “Items for Future Consideration” to the Governing Board Agenda. This created too much “busy work” for staff, thought other Board members.

Finally, President Lily Tram couldn’t take it anymore and swung into action. After several meetings, questions, issues relating to possible violations of Open Meeting Law, consultations with attorneys, Ms. Tram issued “Tram’s Rule” ala Rube Goldberg.

Tram ruled that all Items for Future Consideration wouldn’t see the light of day unless it was approved by a Majority of the Board members.

Here’s the part that creates havoc, and that some Gilbert citizens pointed out back in September, but were ignored.

You will see this language on every Governing Board Agenda: “There will be a vote by the Board as to whether the proposed item should be on a future agenda, but there will be no discussion on the substance, merits, or issues relating to the proposed agenda item.”

So, the Board will vote on something they know literally nothing about, except a title.

It was bound to happen, and on 1/10/2012, Principal Empowerment was up for a vote. So which will it be? Yes? No? Cast your vote. Various Board members stated their “frustration,” “exasperation,” “displeasure,” “it’s ridiculous,” “I’m not comfortable with this process,” “I’m abstaining.”

No kidding.

Superintendent Dave Allison agreed to research what other school districts are doing regarding allowing an Item for Future Consideration to be allowed.

Helen Hollands – Gilbert Board Member/Mesa Schools Marketing Director – Huh?

The innocuous sounding Agenda Item read “3.01 Dates and Times of Meetings.” But that wasn’t what it was about…really. Board member Helen Hollands had recently accepted an $87,829-a-year Communications and Marketing Director position with Mesa Public Schools, a competitor of Gilbert Public Schools. Her new boss required her to attend Mesa School Board meetings. Those meeting dates conflict with Gilbert Board Meetings. So, naturally Ms. Hollands asked Gilbert’s Governing Board to change their meeting dates.

Due to Open Meeting Law, the board members could not discuss the issue of “possible” conflict of interest that results when a Board member is working for a prime competitor.

That did not stop two citizens, Gil Fidler and Julie Smith, from asking her to resign during the Citizen Request to Speak.

Board members Staci Burk and Shane Stapley did their best to bring up conflicts with meeting dates elsewhere, including the Gilbert Town Council’s Study Sessions. Also mentioned was, why not ask the Mesa Board to meet on a different date?

The other Board members didn’t take the hint. So, Helen Hollands (yes, she voted), EJ Anderson, and Lily Tram voted to accommodate Mesa’s Governing Board’s schedule, and changed Gilbert’s from the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, to the 1st and 3rd.

For more information, check out Hayley Ringle’s article in the Arizona Republic titled Gilbert Public Schools Board Changes Meeting Dates for Member

Ms. Ringle noted in her article that “the Mesa District has lost 9,000 students in the last decade, and is searching for ways to attract new students.”

Where do you suppose our Mesa neighbor might look for some more students? Gilbert? And who might give Mesa a hand in harvesting some of those lost students?

Life hasn’t been the same since Staci Burk and Shane Stapley were elected to the Gilbert Governing Board.

I wonder how this decision fits into GPS’s “Strategic Goals” as they strive to be World Class competitors in the global economy?