The East Valley School Board on Tuesday took care of a few housekeeping measures before tempers flared.
Board chairman Mike Novakovich said the board decided during a Dec. 7 work session to vote during public meetings on approval of board stipend and expense reimbursement checks, rather than ask the superintendent to do it.
Superintendent John Glenewinkel said the change in practice was suggested to him after a recent audit.
“I think it’s an important step for transparency,” board member Justin Voelker said.
The board also made a few changes in its operating protocol, among them that “board members will be contacted by district email and agree to read email often,” according to the document.
Board member Mike Harris said he prefers to be contacted by phone, rather than email, or if it is something urgent, he gets his personal email on his cellphone.
“When I get home I don’t feel like getting on the computer,” Harris said.
Novakovich said the reason for the district email is that if someone files a public records request for school board email, his personal account would be searchable if he uses it for district business.
At Harris’ suggestion, the board at its next meeting will consider changing how it elects its officers. Rather than voting, Harris suggested rotating members through different positions as he has seen other districts do.
During public comments, debate heated up after district resident Art Tupper pledged to support an effort to pass a bond only if the district reverted from a K-8 model to a traditional elementary-middle-high school system, and declined to renew Glenewinkel’s contract.
“Do something for the kids and make these changes,” Tupper said.
Former board member Heidi Gillingham took member Fred Helms to task for his “us versus them” mentality. When Helms poses questions such as “How are you going to fix this?” Gillingham said she believes he should be asking, “How are we going to fix this?”
“You are part of the board now,” Gillingham said, adding the district needs to move forward and take stock of what is working and what isn’t.
“Why did you jump me?” Helms said when she finished.
Some in the audience wanted to respond to Gillingham’s comments, but Novakovich cut them off.
“We’re not going to attack each other,” Novakovich said. “We just want to keep it civil.”