By Pat Maurer
The support of a “no” vote on Proposal 2 and another against supporting Proposal 5 prompted much controversy at the Clare Board of Education meeting Monday evening.
Clare Eighth Grade Math teacher Doug Haggart spoke to the board about the proposed resolution on Proposal 2. “I don’t know why you would even have this on your agenda,” he told the board.
He said Wednesday evening, “It [Proposal 2] is not just an educational idea, it is collective bargaining for all public and private employees. I wanted to express my reasons for feeling that the board shouldn’t be voting on this. They have the right to comment during the meeting or encourage others to vote, I just didn’t feel it was something the board should take action on.”
According to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, Proposal 2 would amend the State constitution, “allowing collectively bargained labor contracts to undo all previously enacted restriction on the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining and for employees to financially support their collective bargaining representatives, and forbid the enactment of future legislation that would affect those rights. It would also effectively restrict the ability of the Michigan legislature to enact right to work legislation and put into the constitution the right of state employees to formally organize for the purpose of collective bargaining.”
In the Clare BOE agenda, the resolution was explained as, “…Proposal 2, if passed, would amend the State Constitution regarding collective bargaining. The proposal could alter dozens of Michigan laws in an effort to tilt the balance between management and labor at the bargaining table.”
During “Recognition of Citizens,” James Moreno of the Isabella County Commission, said, “I am disappointed that the resolution is on the agenda. Teachers need to be able to have a say in how many students are in their classroom.”
A parent, Rachel Drake, also urged the board to drop the item from the agenda.
When the item came up on the agenda, Board Trustee Dick Shively said he was “surprised and disappointed to see this on the agenda.”
Board member Dave Maxwell said, “I am voting for this. I don’t see this as a slap in the face (of our employees). This is a democracy.
Trustee Steve Stark said he is normally not in favor of the board taking a position. “I’m here for the kids and the kids only. This is America and you can disagree on a whole bunch of issues. If it (Proposal 2) affects the district financially to the degree that this probably would, I don’t see that we can’t [vote not to support it].
Trustee Ben Browning said, “My understanding of the proposal is that it [our vote not to support Proposal 2] wouldn’t take anything away from them (the teachers) or divide this community.”
Board President Tom Weaver said he intended to vote against the resolution (to support a no vote on the proposal) because, “Although I will vote no on it in the election, it is not my intention, my right to tell people how to vote.” Shively agreed with the sentiment.
Weaver later made a statement saying he didn’t understand the employees ‘angst.’ “The defeat of the proposal will not reduce bargaining rights” he said. “My opinion is that this board’s opposition to Proposal 2 is no more disrespect to [employees] than your support of the proposal is disrespect to this board.”
The resolution for the proposal said, “…the Clare Public Schools Board of Education supports a ‘NO’ vote on Proposal 2 and calls upon all citizens of the Clare Public School District to vote in the best interest of all Michigan school districts by voting ‘NO’ on the proposal at the polls on November 6, 2012.”
After some more discussion the board members agreed to delete the wording following “…the Clare Public Schools Board of Education supports a ‘NO’ vote on Proposal 2,” a change they felt eliminated telling others how to vote.
The resolution was approved unanimously.
The second resolution urging a ‘NO’ vote on Proposal 5 was explained in the agenda as “…if passed, would amend the State Constitution to limit the enactment of new taxes by State Government. The Proposal would alter Michigan’s Constitution to require a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate for most State tax votes [or by an affirmative vote of Michigan electors at a November election]. This would allow as few as 13 legislators to block policy changes.”
The BOE agreed to remove part of the resolution language following “…that the Clare Public Schools board of Education supports a ‘NO’ vote on Proposal 5,” excluding the phrase: “and calls upon all citizens of the Clare Public School District to defeat the extreme and dangerous supermajority scheme by voting ‘NO’ on the proposal at the polls on November 6, 2012.” Despite the change the board members voted a unanimous “no” on the resolution supporting a “NO” vote on the proposal.
President Weaver said, “If I can’t draw a direct link between the school and the proposal, I’m not inclined to vote for the resolution. Stark said, “I don’t think we have a ‘duty’ to do this.
At the second “Recognition of Citizens, Moreno said he was “totally disappointed that the board still voted on the resolution supporting a no vote on Proposal 2. “There are signatures of 700,000 supporting this, 41,000 volunteers helping with the legal fights and 800 small businesses that support Proposal 2,” he said. I don’t understand your support of a ‘no’ vote on 2 when you didn’t support a ‘no’ vote on 5.”
Drake agreed saying, “I’m very disappointed that the board voted on this.”
Other business at the meeting Monday included:
*Recognition of Mellissa Benchley who was named to the All-State first team in softball.
*Recognition of the $2,500 donation from Shopko to the schools. The Sports Boosters received $800 which will be used for an immobilizer and tape; The Band Boosters received $800 towards the fundraiser for new band uniforms; and the Education Boosters received $800 which will be divided into four $200 awards for each library. The remaining $100 will go to the Clare Public Schools Education Foundation.
*During her report Superintendent Pummell reported that the Clare Equestrian Team has earned the State Championship; and suggested looking into using the district’s north Clare property for a Disk Golf course.
*A report from Doug Fillmore on changes at Pioneer School and presentation of an Adult Education Handbook to the board for the first reading. A second reading and approval by the board will be on the November agenda.
*The scheduled Audit Report from Roslund, Prestage & Company was tabled until November.
*The board approved the Annual Report and the District Improvement Plan.
*Graduation was set for Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m.