Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Building & Grounds/ Finance Committee Meeting June 29th, 2015

This was a short informal meeting of the Finance Committee to discuss the sale of the Brunkow School to the Saginaw ISD.

I was very glad to hear that Bridgeport will be selling the Brunkow School to the Saginaw ISD for $1.00.  The Brunkow School is currently being used for the Head Start program and now they will be able to continue that program.  They will recommend the sale with a adjustment to a clause in the sale contract.
The only problem that I have with any of this is that the meeting that took place to discuss and negotiate the sale was actually done after the board meeting on June 22nd.  Towards the end of that board meeting, the board President Jay Bruns requested that the members of the Finance Committee stay after the meeting and have a discussion with Superintendent Stewart from the Saginaw ISD concerning the future of Brunkow School.  That discussion/meeting was in violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.  I don't believe it was done with any ill intent, with no desire to intentionally keep the public in the dark, but it was done out of ignorance of the law of the Open Meetings Act.  That is a unacceptable action by members of the school board.  The Bridgeport School Board has been in my opinion too dysfunctional for too many years and this is just one example of the many reasons why.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Meetings And The Michigan Open Meetings Act

There was a Bridgeport School Board Personnel Committee Meeting held on June 1st, 2015 and there had been no public notice posted prior to this meeting being held.  According to the OMA, "a meeting of a public body cannot be held unless public notice is given consistent with the OMA".  School Boards and their standing committees, which the personnel committee is,  are considered "public bodies" under the OMA.  The OMA states that there are penalties for OMA violations, "a public official who "intentionally violates" the OMA may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and may be personally liable for actual and exemplary damages of not more than $500 for a single meeting"
You can view the Michigan Open Meetings Act here - http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/OMA_handbook_287134_7.pdf

There have been notices posted for all the other school board committee meetings before and after this personnel meeting on June 1st.  It is my understanding that the decision was made by board member Marti Sageman, who is also the Chairman of the Personnel Committee, that no notice be posted for this meeting based on an opinion that was given by Brad Banasik, legal counsel at the Michigan Association Of School Boards organization.  Marti Sageman had contacted him with her concerns about the meetings and the OMA.  She has shown time and time again her disdain for my video camera being allowed into the meetings and them then being posted on YouTube.
She states right in the June 1st meeting her feelings about YouTube.  You can view the meeting here - http://bridgeportmusings.blogspot.com/2015/06/bridgeport-school-board-personnel.html

I have obtained the email from Brad Banasik, through the Freedom Of Information Act, concerning his opinion on the meetings and the OMA.  In reading the email, it seems to mainly focus on what meetings would not be subject to the OMA; but in the second paragraph he quotes from the Attorney General's opinion "that a meeting of a standing committee of a county board of commissioners, composed of less that a quorum of the full board, is subject to the OMA when the committee is effectively authorized to determine what items of county business are referred for action by the full board".  That is exactly what the school boards standing committees such as the personnel committee do, they "determine what items of county (here school board) business are referred for action by the full board".

I have questions after reading this email.  Why did Marti Sageman first contact Mr. Banasik about the meetings and the OMA; was it just to try and find a way to keep my video camera and Mr. Rhines out of the meetings?   Did she just miss the Attorney General's opinion in the second paragraph, or did she not understand it, or did she "intentionally ignore" it?  If she intentionally ignored it, then would that be considered a "intentional violation" of the OMA?  If she truly believed that the Personnel Committee Meeting on June 1st did not need to be posted or open to the public, why did she not try to have me removed from that meeting?   That makes me think she knew that to do so would have been in clear violation of the OMA.
In the School Boards own bylaws, it states that "All meetings for the conduct of the affairs of and the transaction of business by the Board, including committee and subcommittee meetings shall be open to the public.  Broadcasting and taping of the public Board  shall be subject to the following rules..."  Is this another policy she just doesn't understand or willfully ignores?
Maybe she is just ignorant of the purpose of the standing committees and their role, of the rules concerning them, and if so, why is she the Chairman of the Personnel Committee?  Actually why is she still even on the school board when she doesn't seem to be aware of the laws and even the school boards own bylaws concerning the rules, roles and behavior governing school board members?  Maybe she is aware of them but chooses to ignore them? Some of her actions are in clear violation of the boards own bylaws, but she just continues on her merry way doing whatever she wants.

You can view the Bridgeport School Board of Education site and view the "Board of Education Policies" where you can read their statement that one of their goals is "To conduct Board business openly, soliciting and encouraging broad-based involvement in the Board's decision-making processes by the public, students, and staff". Also their policies concerning the use of recording devices in their meetings.  http://www.bscs.k12.mi.us/BoardofEducation

I have posted here the email from Brad Banasik to Marti Sageman.  Click on the photo's to see a larger copy of them.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Policy Committee Meeting June 26th, 2015

This was a meeting of the Policy Committee of the Bridgeport School Board of Education.  They discussed several items - the student handbook and policies for the upcoming school year, board policies, and the Balanced Calendar School Year.

I thought this was a very good meeting, very informative, very constructive.  It was attended by School Board Members Pat Nelson, Tedi Morris, Robert Lange, and Assistant Principle John Lagalo, resident John Rhines.
They had a long discussion about the changes that will be made for the student handbook and school policies for the upcoming school year.  There will be some positive changes being made.  They also discussed some issues with the School Board policies and needed changes.  There is also a issue with board members not following the policies already in place.
There was a date set for a followup policy committee meeting on July 15th, and a special School Board Meeting on July 20th. 
One of the items they discussed was the Year Round /Balanced Calendar school calendar.  They will be looking into bringing that to the Bridgeport Schools in the future.  They will bring in people to give presentations etc...  I really hope they do this and soon.  You can go to Google and research information about the Balanced Calendar, pros and cons, statistics from school districts that are using this calendar.  Here is a good article I found and a website:
- Local Schools Weigh balanced calendar vs. traditional calendar - http://thedailynews.cc/2015/04/01/balanced-calendar-vs-traditional-calendar-local-school-districts-weighing-option/
- National Association for Year-Round Education - http://www.nayre.org/ 

I attended the Bridgeport School System until high school, then my family moved to the south and I attended high school there.  This was decades ago and they were years behind Michigan when it came to education; but they did one thing that was years ahead of Michigan, they used the Balanced Calendar.  There was a large population growth in the area and the schools were over crowded.  We actually had two high schools using the same building.  My high school was the morning shift and the other high school attended for the afternoon shift.  That was when they switched to the balanced calendar to help ease the overcrowding.  At first everyone was resistant and especially the students.  After 6 months or less into the school year, I can tell you we loved the balanced calendar!!  I was a student that had always hated attending school, but I can remember watching the calendar towards the end of that 3 week break and counting down the days until I could get back to school.  When the 3 week breaks started, I was ready for that break, but when the break was over, I was anxious to get back to school.  If the Balanced Calendar can take a student that hated attending school and turn them into a student that looked forward to getting back to school, then it is something that works.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Special Bridgeport School Board Meeting To Be Held Monday, June 29th, 2015

This meeting is not on the regular schedule for the board meetings so I wanted to let everyone know that may be interested in attending.  It will be held at 6pm at the High School.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Misappropriation Of Public Funds and Unlawful Actions by Bridgeport School Board Member Marti Sageman

Note:  The lawsuit filed against the school board in this matter was dismissed by the court.  http://bridgeportmusings.blogspot.com/2016/08/dismissal-of-john-rhines-lawsuit.html

In this blog post I will be sharing the letter that was sent by Attorney Phillip Ellison to the Bridgeport School District Board of Education and each individual board member.  I will also be posting the Separation Agreement that was signed between the school district and Mrs. Jennifer McDonald.  
Part of this letter states that “There was no lawful or needed basis to remove or otherwise cause the induced employment termination of Principal McDonald solely by President Sageman in the midst of the budget deficit, but for her own political and personal benefit, use, and goals.  Such action constitutes conversion of public monies for her own use.”   
Another part states “Ms. Sageman did not have and had not received School Board approval before directly spending public funds.  President Sageman lacked lawful authority to possess or expend public monies she converted for her own political purposes and use.  Given such, Ms. Sageman has personally misappropriated or unlawfully expended public funds because of her own personal and political interest in removing former Principal McDonald.”

I believe that if the board does not act within 21 days to recover this money from Marti Sageman, then it will be pursued in the court system by Attorney Ellison. .
There has been a gofundme account set up to help cover the legal expenses incurred to help bring the needed accountability necessary to this school board - http://www.gofundme.com/repayBSCS 

Here are copies of the letter from Attorney Ellison and the Separation Agreement.  I am adding them here in jpeg format.  The letter is 4 pages and the separation agreement is 7 pages.  To see a larger image of the pages just click on each image.

Bridgeport School Board Meeting - Budget Hearing June 22nd, 2015

On the agenda:
- Budget Workshop and Hearing begins at 0:46
- 2015-16 Budget Action begins at 19:10
-2014-15 Amended Budget Action begins at 19:46
- Brunkow Building Sale Discussion begins at 20:24
- Citizen Participation begins at 28:06
- Personnel Report begins at 34:50
- Superintendent's Evaluation Tool Discussion begins at 38:26
- Authorized Check Signers begins at 40:20
- Board and Superintendent Comments begin at 41:25

The audio equipment was not working at tonight's meeting but overall the audio is not too bad, you will have a few times that you will struggle to hear some comments.  And I apologize that I did not do a very good job of videotaping tonight's meeting.
The main purpose of tonight's meeting was the budget for the 2015-16 school year.  I have included copies of that budget in this post that were handed out at the meeting.  I do also have a copy of the amended 2014-15 budget that was passed out at the meeting.  I have not included them here, but if anyone would like to see them just let me know and I will post them.
They also discussed the status of the Brunkow School Building.  There was a presentation by Ms. Stewart of the Saginaw ISD concerning Brunkow School.  I think it would be an outstanding action by the Bridgeport School District if they were to deed the building over to the ISD so the Head Start program could continue. 
There were two speakers during the Citizen Participation segment, first was Connie Portice-Brown and second was John Rhines.  Mr. Rhines begins at about 32:00 minutes into the video.  His comments concern unlawful actions taken by board member Marti Sageman that involves misappropriation of school funds.  I will be doing a separate blog post on this matter to give it the full attention it deserves.

The copies of the school budget:  click on the photos to see enlarged copies....
Page 1 -

 Page 2 -

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Meeting To Be Held On Property Tax Millage Rate And School Budget

Sorry I am late in getting this posted.  There will be a school board meeting held on Monday, June 22nd, 2015 to discuss the property tax millage rate and the proposed school budget for the 2015-2016 school year.  The above notice was posted in the June 17, 2015 issue of the Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald on page 21.  All the meetings have a public comment period, so if you have any thoughts on this matter, or any other school board matters, please attend and speak up during the public comment period.
There will also be a school board Policy Committee Meeting held on Friday June 26th, 2015 at 11:00am at the high school.  The committee meetings are also open to the public.

Sunday Morning in Lyle Park

I haven't been able to make my daily walks through Davis or Lyle parks here in Bridgeport for about 2 months, much to my dog's disapproval.  We finally made it this morning and it was a nice morning.  There were no mosquitoes and no trash!!  
Not sure who to give the credit to for the lack of mosquitoes, but great job there.  The amount of dog poop throughout Lyle Park was becoming a problem even though they do provide small bags for the dog walkers to carry and pick up the waste.  It seemed few people were using those bags..  The bags are in small park area entrance in front of the Historic Bridge.    Today though I saw no dog poop and no trash.  I believe the credit for this belongs to Bridgeport resident Sue Schluckebier and her friend that walk through the park.  They have been picking up the trash and the dog waste left behind by the park users.  Great Job!!  I used to pick up the trash on my walks but never picked up the dog waste, I have my limits!!
There is another bench in Lyle Park to sit on and a table, another trash can.  The park is looking good!  Some may think the weeds along the edges are getting too high but that is a issue that is debatable.  It looks nice when all the weeds are trimmed down and you can view the river but those weeds are not really just weeds.  There are many different types of wildflowers and milkweed plants.  Even some of the plants that are considered weeds have flowers that are beneficial to the pollinators.  The pollinators are in trouble worldwide and so are the Monarch Butterflies that depend on the milkweed plants.  So when the weeds go, so do the beneficial plants.  So what do you do?  I enjoy the many flowering plants along the river, part of the pleasure of the walk.
So Bridgeport residents, get out and enjoy our lovely little parks, just please clean up after yourself!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting June 10th, 2015

On the agenda:
Public Comment begins at 1:51
Under New Business -
- Little Free Library begins at 4:50
- Saginaw Future begins at 11:40
Under Old Business -
- Beautification Committee Report begins at 15:48
- Great Lakes Discovery Center begins at 25:00
- Bavarian Comfort Care begins at 26:52
DDA Coordinator's Report begins at 31:23
DDA Member Comments begin at 38:08

During the public comment period Mike Szukhent and Jerry Preston of the Birch Run-Bridgeport CVB talked about the advertising and marketing campaign they have going right now for Bridgeport. 
The Little Free Library will be located by the front of the Historic Bridge area.  I am looking forward to that.  I will be making good use of it and hope other Bridgeport residents will also.
There was a update from the Beautification Committee.  Things are looking good here in Bridgeport,  I really love the flower pots this year!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Meeting June 8th, 2015

On the agenda:
- Student and Staff Recognition begins at 0:45
- Citizen Participation begins at 8:15
- Committee Reports (Building & Grounds/Finance) and also discussion on the status of current Acting Superintendent and Superintendent Search begins at 21:13
- Professional Learning Update begins at 1:02:57
There was supposed to be a presentation by Mr. Barlow on the College and Career-Scholarship Update but Mr. Barlow could not attend. I had to change batteries in this discussion so you will see a break in the video.
- MHSAA Membership Discussion/Resolution begins at 1:14:00
- Payment of Bills, Approval of Minutes begins at 1:15:09
- School Resource Officer Contract for 2015-16 begins at 1:16:25
- Board and Superintendent Comments begin at 1:17:07

Congratulations to the students and staff for their recognition awards!!
I have to apologize for the poor audio quality.  The school board only has 4 microphones for the whole group and one small speaker.  It is hard for my small video camera to pick up all the audio in the large auditorium.  I try to do the best I can with what I have to work with.

Some very important subjects were discussed at the meeting.  I will start with the citizen participation segment.
John Rhines spoke and shared some disturbing information about board member Marti Sageman.  After watching the video of the June 1st Personnel Committee Meeting, Mr. Rhines sent Mrs. Sageman an email about what he viewed as her ridiculous behavior in that meeting.  The following day Mrs. Sageman filed a police report with the Bridgeport Police Department claiming she felt threatened by Mr. Rhines; that she feels scared by Mr. Rhines when he stares at her at the meetings, that he requests that she resign her seat on the school board!!  He will be filing a complaint against her under the statewide schools anti-bullying policy.  I think it is about time that someone finally does.  

On the Michigan Department of Education website they have the Model Anti-Bullying Policy.  It applies also to school employees not just students.  I believe this is what Mr. Rhines is referring to.  This is part of that policy:

"The (fill in district name) board of education prohibits any person from falsely accusing another as a means of bullying or harassment.  The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another as a means of bullying or harassment may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion.  Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a school employee found to have falsely accused another as a means of bullying or harassment shall be in accordance with district policies, procedures, and agreements." 

One thing that I have heard about Marti Sageman over and over again from members of our community is that she is a bully, has been a bully for years, that if you go against her she will make you pay!  I have never posted those remarks on my blog because I did not personally know firsthand the details of any of the incidents.  What Mr. Rhines talks about here definitely sounds like bullying to me, trying to silence any of her critics.  I stare at her during the meetings usually in amazement at her behavior, I think many people stare at her in amazement.  I have called for her to resign numerous times on my blog.  Others in tonight’s meeting called for her to resign.  Will she file a police report against all of us? Against anyone that criticizes her or holds her accountable for her behavior and actions?  

Mr. Rhines also mentioned at the beginning of his comments about the June 1st Personnel Committee Meeting, that there was no notice published about it being held.  Mrs. Sageman claims that teachers contacted her and complained that their names were mentioned on YouTube.  She then contacted a lawyer at the Michigan Association of School Boards to get an opinion on the meetings being videotaped or something along that line.  I believe it was a result of Mrs. Sageman’s interpretation of that legal opinion and her wishes that no notice was sent out about the meeting being held.  Mr. Rhines says he contacted every teacher that was mentioned in that meeting and they all claimed that they had not been in contact with Mrs. Sageman.  Did she lie about the whole event just to find a way to keep my video camera and possibly Mr. Rhines, her most out spoken critic, out of the meetings?  That is a serious question that I am hoping to find an answer to.  I found her behavior disgusting in the two personnel meetings I have videotaped, maybe she just wanted to try and keep the public from seeing these things?  If she does not resign her position from the board, then I believe she should at least be removed from her position as the Chairman of the Personnel Committee.

Marti Sageman is an elected public official and should always be held to a higher standard and should always be held accountable.  If she cannot face the criticism or scrutiny then she should not be on the school board or in any public office.  Any school board member or public official that believes the public does not have the right to demand they resign their position, is either so ignorant, or so corrupt, or so egotistical, they do not belong in public office.  

The next speaker was Zachary Podojak, a 2006 Bridgeport graduate.  He spoke about the state of affairs of the Bridgeport School District and the situation surrounding the resignation of former Superintendent Desmon Daniel and Board Member Darrell Thayer.  You can read the article he mentions here –  Bridgeport School Board Member Steps Down In Protest - http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2009/02/bridgeport_spaulding_school_bo.html

The last speaker was Frank Morrison.  He also spoke about the need for Marti Sageman to either resign from the school board or be removed from the school board.  He said he has talked to former school board members and they all agree the biggest problem on the school board for many years has been Marti Sageman.   How many school board members, superintendents, staff members, have left because of Mrs. Sageman?  How many more years will she be allowed to continue causing discord within our school district?

During the Committee Reports segment they discussed the status of Acting Superintendent Carol Selby and extending her contract.  They did vote to extend her contract for one year.  I am not sure if she will remain Acting Superintendent or be named Interim Supeintendent.  The main problem I have with giving her only a one year contract is that I suspect there is one, maybe two, board members that don’t want her to be the Superintendent.    When the one year contract comes back up for renewal, will they still support it?  It sounds like from the comments made by Melissa Cabine and Pete Basile, that the MDE or other state organizations are looking to see that there will be stability and continuity in the management of the school district to get them through and out of the deficit period and priority schools status.  They are estimating that it will take two years to get out of the deficit problems.  Will the MDE view a one year contract as the stability that is needed?  

There were some good points made by Mrs. Morris about the time required for a thorough Superintendent search.  With a one year contract for Mrs. Selby, they would need to start that search now.  There was also discussion about how bringing in a new Superintendent during the middle of these problems would not be in the best interest of the school district.  There was also discussion about the ability to attract other qualified candidates for the Superintendent position while the schools are going through these problems.  I stated in an earlier post on my blog that with the history of problems, past and current, within the school board and its members, within the district, it may be hard to attract qualified candidates.  Think about it…  If you are a candidate and you did your research, found on the internet the articles like the one mentioned above on MLive about board members possibly being responsible for driving out Superintendents and other board members, would you want to apply for a position in that district?  I wouldn’t!!

They discussed using the same search firm that gave them Thomas Hill as their last candidate.  Mr. Allen says that same company also sent another candidate that showed up to the interview wearing boots covered in cow dung.  And there are board members that still want to use that same search firm?  Mrs. Morris has done some good research into firms that do the searches, talked with other districts.  The firm that Bridgeport used may be cheaper, but the MASB also does the superintendent searches, they cost more but get better results.  That is another of the no-brainer decisions as to which firm to use, but Bridgeport can’t really afford the better firm right now.  One of my favorite quotes is the definition of  insanity --   “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I have a problem with several things that Robert Lange said during the meeting.  He was discussing the cost savings associated with keeping Mrs. Selby on as Superintendent with Pete Basile.  I thought Mr. Lange’s behavior was rude and disrespectful towards Mr. Basile.  Mr. Lange also mentioned that he wanted to see some academic performance statistics.  My impression is that he did not want to give Mrs. Selby a contract until he sees those results and only if she is vetted against other candidates in a superintendent search by the same firm they used before.  Mrs. Selby stepped in and took over the Superintendent role in December 2014 after the exit of Mr. Hill, and she was also performing her position as Title 1 person.  If the student academic performance statistics are not at a acceptable level, is that a true reflection on the job she has performed since December?  Or is it more of a reflection on the staff members and school board members that have been in place for years, some for too many years?    Mrs. Selby seems to be performing a good job, but she is not a miracle worker, it will take her time to bring these schools out of the mess that they have become over many years.  Most members agree that she has brought the needed stability to the district.  My impression is that her, Melissa Cabine and Pete Basile are doing a good job in getting the schools through the financial and other problems at this time.  

They also mentioned that this school board does not have a strategic plan in place.  I believe the school boards role is to have the plan in place and then the superintendent’s role is to put that plan into action.  Mrs. Sageman said in this meeting and also a personnel committee meeting, that they did have a 5 year strategic plan in place.   The problem with that is the other board members have never seen it, it was drafted 7 to 9 years ago so it is already outdated.  It also was done before the schools fell into the deficit problems so it is now irrelevant.  So there may be a outdated irrelevant 5 year strategic plan that no one has seen in years, but when you look at the state the school district has fallen into, was the plan any good to begin with?  Here we go again – Who’s On First?

Dempsey Allen made a comment in the closing board member comments that I thought was excellent.  Summary is that he is serving at the leisure of the voters, members of this district, and that if he is no longer productive, ceases to show commitment to the students and staff of the district, that he hopes he would have the courage to step down before he was asked to do so. I have confidence in Mr. Allen, I don’t doubt his commitment to the students and the district.  I commented in an earlier blog post here titled “Impressions” that I felt that Marti Sageman would not step down from the board if that is what was  best for the students and the school district.  I still don’t believe she would.  She claims that she does everything she can for the students and the district.  I don’t feel that she does anything for the benefit of the students and district. I feel she does it all for herself.  It is all about Marti..  I feel she does it for her own glory, for her legacy.  What will her legacy truly be though, will it be as the most infamous school board member in the history of the Bridgeport School Board?  Has anyone ever looked at the complete definition of Narcissism?

I left this meeting feeling unsettled, it left me with a ominous feeling that I still can't shake off.  There was one thing though in the meeting that did make me laugh.  School Board President Jay Bruns used the gavel to let a audience member know that they were speaking out of line, not during the public comment period.  I often feel like shouting things out loud from the audience during the school board meetings but I always manage to hold my tongue.  Someday he may have to use that gavel because of me!  Remember the paddles that teachers used to keep on their desks?  It was meant as a threat to us unruly and rebellious students, but it always made me laugh and I viewed it as a challenge.  I am not laughing at Mr. Bruns for using the gavel, it for some reason just reminded me of my long ago school days, made me feel again like that rebellious student.  You know you are in trouble if Mr. Bruns gets out the gavel!!

I was glad to see that they did vote to renew the contract for the school resource officer.  I have meet Officer Brent Green and he seems like a very nice young man.  They have also commented in other meetings that he has been a great benefit to the schools.
Dennis Barlow was supposed to give a presentation on the college readiness program but was unable to attend the meeting.  I have a print out of what the presentation was going to be and it looks good.  I am hoping that he will be able to make the presentation at another meeting.