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April 21. 2014 11:10PM

Timberlane school board debates minutes procedure

PLAISTOW — The approval of previous meeting minutes is usually a formality for most local boards and committees, a chance to make a quick grammatical correction or two.

However, at the most recent Timberlane Regional District School Board meeting, the approval of the minutes caused almost as much debate and tension as the regular items on the agenda.
 
 
At issue was some incorrect information conveyed during a New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) presentation during the board’s April 3 meeting, as well as how the board approves its minutes in general.
 
 
Board member Donna Green sought to correct that information in the official minutes of the meeting, while several other board members stated that the written minutes are not meant to reflect every single detail of a given meeting.
 
 
“I think it would be a good idea to make an editorial note in the minutes that the 11th grade math NECAP score was incorrectly reported,” said Green. “I think it was reported at 38 percent when it was 33 percent. I think we should make a note to that effect in the minutes because we can’t recapture the presentation.”
 
 
School board member Peter Bealo said he was sure the administration would reflect the correct scores in information available to the public.

“I really don’t see any need for flogging an administrator for making a clerical error on a PowerPoint presentation like that,” said Bealo.
 
 
Superintendent Earl Metzler pointed out that there were several numbers in the presentation that were not reflected accurately, including ones that were in the school district’s favor. Metzler said the administration would make sure all the information is presented accurately.
 
 
Green said she still wanted to see the information corrected in the written minutes of the April 3 meeting.
 
 
“This is an opportunity to correct the record,” she said. “Why don’t we do that? We invested 20 minutes at the last meeting, why don’t we take this opportunity to correct the record for the public?”
 
 
A motion by Green to amend the written minutes to reflect the NECAP scores did not receive a second and did not move forward.

Bealo and school board chair Nancy Steenson said the official minutes of the meetings are actually reflected in the official district video of the meeting. Steenson said the board decided about two years ago to use the videos as the full minutes with the written minutes as a guide to the video.
 
 
Steenson said the written minutes are not meant to cover every detail of a meeting.
 
 
Green also made a motion that the school board go back to approving meeting minutes by individual member vote rather than by general consent, as is currently done. That motion failed by a 5-2 vote.

“I’d like the record to show that I don’t approve of these minutes,” Green said.

aswift@newstote.com


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