An Open Letter from Director Calcagno
My name is Annette Calcagno. I am currently serving on the Corbett school board in Director Position One. I was elected almost two years ago.
Seems like we’ve been hearing a lot lately about “fiction” and “fact” when it comes to our local school board members, and motivations behind votes and actions taken by different board members. I for one would like to address some of these to help set the record straight.
Fiction: I don’t have children in the Corbett school district!
Fact: I have two students who attend Corbett Elementary on the District side. I also have a seventh grade son who is attending Knova Learning Center in the Reynolds District.
Fiction: Some board members demand that staff time should be spent on them!
Fact: I have only asked for a few reports since being elected to the school board two years ago. I believe these reports should be in our District office and available to all who are interested in getting a copy. ( I have not asked for any reports to be “created or developed” or used my position on the board to get any special treatment when it comes to staff time. ) For example, I do not feel it would be fair to claim a board member caused staff to spend time creating a report when it was actually due to the State of Oregon months prior.
Fiction: Some board members have demanded money be spent on them!
Fact: I have taken my position as a board member to be an extremely important one and have asked that I get the training I need, and that is suggested by OSBA, to be the best board member I can be. I have finished the training required to receive the OSBA Leadership Institutes Bronze Award, and I am well on my way to finishing the requirements for the Silver level.
(I did request an individual room at the Spring conference, 2012, as the first year I was expected to not only share a room, but also a bed with a fellow board member. Much to my surprise this was put before the entire board as a vote, but it was agreed that having our own room was not an unreasonable request.)
It has been voiced at some board meetings that no money should be spent that would take away from money spent in the classroom. However, if you don’t learn how to do your job, you can’t do it well, and it would not make any sense to not educate those whose elected job is to set District goals, policy and direction.
Fiction: I don’t trust Randy!
Fact: The first thing you learn from the OSBA, as a new board member, is “Trust but Verify”. When you are told something you should request documentation to make sure you have all the information to make a good decision. As you get more comfortable with the report style your Superintendent uses, you might reduce the documentation you request, but that depends on the board member. Asking for documentation does not mean you do not trust the Superintendent, it means you are doing the job you were elected to do.
Fiction: You can be sued for the way you vote!
Fact: You cannot be sued for how you vote, but you may leave yourself exposed for failing to get all the facts, reports and information you need to make an informed vote. I will continue to ask for reports, question the information I am given and require additional documentation until I am comfortable that I have all the facts that I need to make an informed decision. I will not blindly vote yes or no. I feel I have received an extreme amount of resistance when I have asked for reports, but I will continue to ask for what I need to make as informed a decision as I can. As to “unqualified no votes”, I have given my reasons on how I vote at every meeting.
Fiction: Some board members don’t talk to the Superintendent!
Fact: Each board member has the option of talking one on one with the Superintendent. However, what I understand from my training on Public meeting laws is whatever you discuss with the Superintendent needs to be brought back and presented to the rest of the board in the next public meeting. That way, every board member has the same information, not different board members having one piece of information and not others.
I have asked that we have two meetings a month, one for action items and one for information items so we can all ask questions and get the same answers, at the same time. The Superintendent has said he prefers to meet one-on-one with board members, but that is not something that I feel comfortable with because we don’t have a time during the public meeting to bring up what we talked about when we met with the Superintendent.
I have said during our regular board meetings how I feel and will continue asking for my information during public meetings. It is not that I won’t talk with the Superintendent; it is that I prefer to do it where everyone can hear my questions, and hear the same answers.
Fiction: “More staff has left since the “new” board members were elected than any other time”!
( Implications have been made that these board members were the reason for staff leaving. That is the “fiction” part I’m referring to. )
Fact: During a board meeting it was also discussed that the District needs to pay more money to our Instructional Aides to keep them, since they could make more money substituting in a neighboring district. Also, that the aides who left, left for better paying positions somewhere else. D. Jacques accepted another job and a better position in administration in another district and sent a letter saying so only a month after I was elected.
Fiction: My Superintendent evaluation was based on personal feelings!
Fact: Every person on the board has a different experience with the Superintendent. I gave a fair and unbiased evaluation based on those experiences.
* If you would like more information on the evaluation process please select here to read Director Purvine’s response to a Charter Parent Recently.
I have not been approached by any of the people who have put out their “fiction” to get my “facts”. My belief is that we need to educate each and every student that walks through our doors. I said it when I ran for the board, I’ve said it during board meetings and I will continue to say it. I came on this board to serve the needs of our children, and I will continue to do so.
Thank you for your time,