Ted Siefer's City Hall: Automatic pay step grenade could be tossed Tuesday night
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The school board held its first meeting Monday under the new rules of order it adopted the week before. The biggest change in the rules was to give the mayor more power to control how meetings are conducted, and on Monday, Mayor Gatsas wasted no time flexing his new muscle.
The board can, and often does, schedule special meetings, but under the existing rules, it could not have public comment during those meetings. So Gatsas exercised his new right as the board's "parliamentarian" to declare that public comment would be permitted at special meetings.
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In general, Monday's meeting moved at a brisk and productive clip. Still, it offered a reminder why it's a good thing the board has two members - Art Beaudry and Debra Gagnon Langton - who are willing to be its resident boat-rockers.
It wasn't until after the board - invoking as it often does a special clause in the state's open meeting law concerning personnel matters - met in nonpublic session that these matters were ironed out. The executive director will be paid with federal money; the spokeswoman's half-year salary was adjusted; she'll be getting $32,000, as anticipated.
Of all the controversial matters the school board deals with, one wouldn't think that a contest for students to design a new logo for the district would be one them. But there they were on Monday, Beaudry and Langton, pressing the superintendent about why the board wasn't informed about the contest.
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One of the more significant actions the school board took during the public portion of its meeting was to send its wish list of building projects to the aldermen - with an emphasis on wish.
But Chris Stewart, Ward 3, raised an interesting question. While they are the district's responsibility, the school facilities themselves belong to the city. And while the aldermen control the purse strings and have the power to issue with construction bonds, it's the district that has to cover the debt on those bonds.
Perhaps this question will be addressed when aldermen - the body that voted to spend $38 million on a shiny new municipal complex - consider the school board's wish list at their meeting this week.
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