Mar 26, 2008

can we just move to adjourn?

A couple weeks ago, the motion came up for consideration, its timing prompting one Board member to walk out. The motion roared back this week, as the Olympia School Board held a regular meeting on March 24.

It was a strange motion: a motion to let the current Superintendent's contract continue through 2010, as approved back in January 2007. In other words, it was a motion to maintain the status quo--which, if you know anything about parliamentary procedure, is pointless.

That must have been why Russ Lehman, introducing the motion, amended it to extend the contract until 2011--and then voted against his own motion. No surprise that the Board got a little confused:
Lehman said he would vote against his motion because he disagreed with the contract's terms for severance. He has voted against changing the expiration date every year he has been on the board. He was elected in 2001.

[Superintendent Bill] Lahmann said his contract only requires that the board take a vote on whether to terminate his contract or to change the expiration date to a later year. The board took no further action, which means that Lahmann's contract ends June 30, 2010.

Board vice president Bob Shirley said he was not happy with the superintendent's performance, but Lahmann asked that discussion about his performance be conducted under executive session.
(That's where The Olympian's report ends.)

When asked to explain the motion, Lehman said, [mp3]
Well, it's a little confusing why it's on the agenda and how it's on the agenda the way it is. The way it's on the agenda, The Board will consider a motion to allow the present contract... with the Superintendent to continue toward its expiration date of 2010. Either way, I think it's important to vote on this specific contract extension the way it's worded in the contract, which is not very good, but the way it's worded in the contract, and then vote that down. That would be my preference, as it has been for the first six years.
Board President Carolyn Barclift asked why the motion was necessary, and Bob Shirley jumped in saying, "I think it's the motion that Russ is familiar with for six years--this is my third."

Well--not exactly. Last time Lahmann's contract came up, Lehman simply made a motion to not extend the contract [pdf]. (This again runs afoul of parliamentary procedure--you can't make a motion to not do something.)

The whole hoopla was probably entirely unnecessary, since the Board had already long passed the January 31 deadline for either extending the contract or letting it stand. As the contract states,
No later than January 31 of each contract year, the Board will review the Superintendent's employment status to determine whether to offer the Superintendent an extended contract or, alternatively, to allow the present contract to continue toward its expiration date.
So, to recap: one unnecessary-yet-controversial motion got amended so its modified version could be voted down by the person who made it.

I am willing to offer a class on parliamentary procedure to all takers. Seriously.

No comments: