Budget committee is ‘work in progress'

Committee structure, guidelines, and confidentiality were major Daniel Boone School Board discussion items on March 25, as it strived to help establish the budget ad hoc committee created by community members.

The budget task force, led by Douglassville residents Hannah Tighe and Laurel Reno, proposed the task force idea to the board at the board’s March 11 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Tighe and Reno said their intended purpose is to reduce board members’ amount of budget work, while finding and researching ideas, and to not create more work or more meetings for board members to attend.

Board President Andrew Basile presented the ad hoc’s structure, based upon the March 11 discussion, which was proposed to include nine of the ad hoc’s own appointed committee member, three board members, an administrator, and a teacher.

Ad hoc committee members would attend all of the board’s committee meetings of Curriculum & Instruction, Finance, Revenue Enhancement (REC), Facilities, Policies, Meet & Discuss, Economic Revitalization, and Transportation, but not the Negotiations Committee.

The board’s major discussion on March 25 questioned why three board members need to attend the task force’s meetings.

“I welcome the help on our committees, but what are we doing on the ad hoc committee?” asked board member Frank Cerminaro.

He later stated that sitting on the ad hoc committee would be redundant to him.

“I sit on the voting and committee of the whole meetings and three committee meetings, and now you want me to sit on this ad hoc committee?” said Cerminaro.

“You work really hard but a lot doesn’t get accomplished,” said Tighe on March 25, adding, “I mean, come on guys, just try.”

Board members repeated from March 11 their endorsement of the ad hoc committee and community members helping to make phone calls and research expenditure-cutting and new revenue ideas, but that three board members will not participate on the ad hoc’s committee meetings.

Confidentiality of documents handed out at the board’s committee meetings is also an issue.

District Solicitor Brian Subers said the board’s responsibility is to protect personnel and student information as well as facility and security information; that information would need to be redacted from any documents given to the ad hoc committee members, and it was redacted from documents at the recent REC meeting.

Basile said he has always expected confidentiality from the members of his committees, and said “they need to be able to have access to the important documents, and need to be able to participate in the discussion.”

“I was reluctant to give out information at the REC meeting -- I was not sure if we should,” said Monica Hamill, chair of REC, adding that she questioned if it is appropriate to add the committee members to her e-mail list, wondering where the information would “end up.”

“People on board know that pre-deliberation documents stay private -- until they are acted upon by the board and brought for a vote,” said member Walter P. Sheehan.

Basile said if there is a “breach of faith, those people will be asked to leave the committee.”

“The committee was effective in the West Chester School District, and that is a much larger (Chester County) school district,” said Basile. “We need to put something out there and try it and we may need to make some adjustments. To delay this with guidelines, and then changes to the guidelines it will be August.”

“I’m not saying wait until August, I just want to be sure that we’re doing it right,” said Sheehan.

He concluded the discussion with the ad hoc committee a “work in progress” and to how it progresses.

Board members agreed to move forward with the ad hoc committee and add guidelines as the standing committee evolves and as guidelines are needed.

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