Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Building & Grounds/Finance Committee Meeting February 27th, 2017

- Meeting starts with some discussion of the option they are looking at of consolidating Thomas White Elementary with Atkins Elementary and Middle School.
- Discussion about the damage from the printer fire at Atkins begins at 7:55
- More discussion about the possible consolidation of Thomas White and Atkins starts at 15:42
- Discussion of maintenance and repairs for the high school buildings and other school properties including the old grade school/Administration building begins at 18:53
- Discussion of projected budget for 2017/18, including discussion of the BEA contract and custodial work begins at 37:40
- Discussion of the two ballot proposals begins at 52:40
- More discussion of the proposal for Thomas White and Atkins consolidation focusing on the academic and other issues begins at 57:20
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry about the volume with the video.  Someday I will invest in a external microphone to help pick up the audio, until then you will need to turn your volume all the way up.
It was a very informative meeting.  I don't think the general public truly understands all the many factors that are involved in the running of our school district.  Hopefully people will watch these committee meetings and understand the kind of decisions that the administration and board members have to make.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School District Ballot Proposals For May 2nd, 2017

There will be two proposals on the May 2nd special election for the Bridgeport Spaulding School District.  One is for the renewal of the 18 mill levy for 10 years.  This is not a new tax or a tax increase for anyone and is only non homestead properties.

The second item on the ballot will be for the 3 mill sinking fund levy for a 10 year period.  It will only be used for much needed repairs of school buildings, school security and technology.  This will be replacing the 6 mill bonded debt levy that expired in 2016.


Things You Can Never Buy

My Monday Musings ....  The most important things in life are things that money can't buy.  Some people in this world will never understand that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding Schools And Transparency

Every year the schedule is set for the regular school board meetings and that schedule is available on the Board Of Education page on the schools website and also posted by the door at the high school. I share that information each year here on my blog so the public can easily find it.  They also hold special board meetings if necessary and they used to hold the boards' committee meetings on a fairly regular basis.  They have the Finance/Building & Grounds Committee, the Policy Committee, the Personnel Committee and also a Curriculum Committee.
Since the spring of 2015 I have been getting notices by email of any special board meetings and any committee meetings.  I had requested to be notified by email of the meetings and it has not been a problem until now.  Back in December 2016 I sent an email to the school administration inquiring about the meeting notices because I had not received any in months.  I was told that they had not had any committee meetings in months except for a Curriculum Committee meeting that had been held in October 2016.  I didn't inquire as to why I had not received a notice for that one because I just figured it was an oversight.  I was very busy back in October and probably would not have been able to attend anyways.  I also asked in this email if they would still be sending out notices in 2017 for the special and committee meetings and was told they would.  They asked if I would like to remain on the list for those meeting notices and I said that yes I would.
We are now in the middle of February 2017 and I have yet to receive a notice of any special or committee meetings.  They held a special board meeting on January 30th 2017 that was a training session for the board members conducted by the MASB.  I did not receive any notice of that but did happen to find it on the BOE page on the school website.   I was surprised that I didn't get a notice but didn't pursue my puzzlement at not getting a notice.
At the regular board meeting on Monday February 13th, I discovered that they had held another Curriculum Committee meeting earlier that day and again I had not received a notice that the meeting would be held. After the regular board meeting was over I did inquire as to whether they would still be sending out the email notices about meetings and am still trying to understand the response I got.  I am not sure if I will ever get another notice about any special board or committee meetings again, but my impression is that I will not get them any longer.  My understanding of the conversation is that the special board meetings will be posted on the BOE page on the school website, and that notices for committee meetings will be posted by one door at the high school.  I did look after I left the board meeting and the notice for the curriculum meeting was posted there.

All these meetings must by law be "open" which means that anyone can attend them and I am free to record them.  From the BOE Bylaws and Policies it states:
Section 1000 - Board Bylaws
1375 Mailing of Notices and Documents to the Public

Recognizing that the public has a right to request, in writing, paper copies of any Board  documents  that  are  created,  issued  or  disseminated  on  a  regular  basis,  such  as: Notices  of  scheduled  Board  meetings,  Board  Committee  meetings  (if  such  meetings  are posted by Board policy) agendas, minutes and newsletters, the Board hereby sets the cost of  such  items  at prevailing  cost  per  page.  Printed  or  electronic  news  media  are specifically exempted from any subscription fee.

Approved: December 14, 2015
LEGAL REF: MCL 15.233, 15.266

So it would appear to me that according to their own bylaws that they would provide me with any notices of the special board and committee meetings.

The Michigan Open Meeting Act is confusing at times to go through but the jest of it is that all meetings must be open and posted prior to the meetings being held. As far as any requirements to notify members of the public, it could be a little clearer in my opinion.  I found this on the states OMA workbook:
A public body must send copies of the public notices by first class mail to a requesting party, upon the party's payment of a yearly fee of not more than the reasonable estimated cost of printing and postage.  Upon written request, a public body, at the same time a public notice of a meeting is posted, must provide a copy of the public notice to any newspaper published in the state or any radio or television station located in the state, free of charge.

Again here I would interpret it to mean that I should be notified of these meetings since I have requested to be notified.

The school fills the minimum legal requirement of the meetings being posted by just posting them on the BOE webpage and on one of the doors at the high school, but in my opinion it is a slap in the face to the spirit of the law.   All public bodies must be perceived by the public that they serve as being "Open and Transparent".  If the Bridgeport schools are no longer going to send out notices to members of the public of meetings, then that is what I call operating in the shadows.  Do they really think that members of the public should have to go to the school everyday and check that one door to see if there are going to be any meetings?  Some people might think that they don't want the public to know about the meetings, don't want the public attending.
Back in May 2015 there was an issue concerning no notice being sent out about a committee meeting.  John Rhines had forwarded me an email exchange between Pat Nelson and Carol Selby concerning that meeting. I don't know where John Rhines got that email exchange from.  In the email that Pat Nelson sent Carol Selby, he expressed concern that they had finally begun rebuilding trust with the community and the staff and he was worried that if the meeting was not being posted, that they may be in violation of the OMA and would erode the trust of the community and they would be perceived as not embracing transparency.  I do have the email exchange and can provide it if anyone doubts it.

I have to wonder what has changed since then?  Do they no longer feel they need to be perceived as open and transparent?  With everything going on with this school district now, I would think they would want to work extra hard at building the trust of the community.
So Bridgeport, if I ever get another notice of a special board meeting or a committee meeting, I will try to attend and share the video with the public.  Sorry,  but I do not have the time to go to the high school everyday and check to see if there will be meetings.  Sad dark days for Bridgeport it looks like to me.

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting February 13th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Consent Agenda: payment of bills, approval of minutes etc... begins at 1:42
- 2016-17 Amended Budget Discussion & Approval begins at 4:26
- Update on status with the School Reform Office and update from Jon Chapman begins at 14:15
- Board Member and Superintendent Comments begin at 42:56
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Again I apologize for the low volume at times during this meeting.  Some of the board member comments and discussion is very hard to hear even when you are present in the room.  They have several microphones to share among all the board members but they seem to make no effort to use them.  For the board to effectively communicate with the public, the public needs to be able to hear them.
There was no public comments at this meeting. The audience members consisted mainly of staff members.

Superintendent Carol Selby talked about how things are progressing with the School Reform Office and about the SRO's recent visit to the district. It sounds like the administration and others felt this visit went very well.  The SRO may have their review/report on our district ready by early to mid March.
Atkins Elementary Principal Jon Chapman gave a presentation concerning the visit to the elementary by the SRO, and also shares the information and data that they shared with the SRO.
There was one comment/question that surprised me.  A school board member had to ask if the elementary holds Parent - Teacher conferences.  If you have been a board member for several years and you don't know that, that is a problem in my opinion.  I know that there is almost no usable information on the schools website, but I would think that all board members would be aware of that kind of information.  I think they may hold them several times per year?
Chief Financial Officer Pete Basile discussed the 2016-17 amended budget.  I have added a copy of the budget that was handed out to the audience.  Click on the photo to see a larger more readable version.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Can't Fix Stupid

Monday I was again reminded of the saying "You Can't Fix Stupid".  When you have to deal with ignorant people, liars, hypocrites, you just want to pull your hair out!!

I keep trying to remember this but it is hard some days 

Some days I can only find one way to deal with them

At least there is some hope for the stupid in this world

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting February 8th, 2017

On the Agenda:
Introduction of Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber members begins at 2:05
Public Comment begins at 3:15
New Business -
- Saginaw Future discussion begins at 4:33
- DDA Meeting Schedule begins at 6:46
- Knights Inn discussion begins at 10:01
- Streetscape opportunities discussion begins at 11:55
Old Business -
- DDA Coordinator's Schedule begins at 14:55
- Carpenter's Plaza update begins at 16:16
- Best of the Best Awards begins at 18:11
DDA Coordinator's Report begins at 20:18
DDA Board Member comments begin at 27:43
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

The meeting starts with the introduction of Ted Valley and Jaeleen Davis from the Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce.Ted Valley is the President and CEO of the chamber and Jaeleen Davis is the Vice President.  I think they will end up being called the Dynamic Duo.  During the public comment period Jaeleen spoke about the upcoming Best of Awards dinner and award ceremony being held on February 16th.
There was some information about the townships partnership with Saginaw Future and some of the benefits we receive from them.
There has been a purchase agreement placed on the Knight's Inn here in Bridgeport.  Hoepfully that works out and the business will be back open fully.
The beautification committee meeting had discussed looking into Streetscape opportunities in the future here for Bridgeport.  Those ideas sound good and hopefully that is something that we will see in the future.
Carpenter's Plaza is looking really good.  The demolition is complete now and the property is cleaned up.  In one way I hate to see those buildings go because they were a fond part of my childhood.  I loved going to the IGA with my mother and shopping there.  You knew almost all the other members of the community and it was like a community gathering whenever you went.  Two of my favorite memories are the Faygo Black Cherry Soda I would get there and the new soft rubber kick ball I got every year there.  I waited every year for them to put up that huge rack that held all the balls and then picking out my new ball.  Hoffman Drugstore was also nice, they had a nice lunch counter.  Again it was a community gathering there. That was all back in the days when you greeted all your neighbors and everyone helped each other out.  Back in the old days.   Same thing with the laundromat.  So part of me is sad to see those buildings go, but it was time and it looks very nice now.  Hopefully we will see something nice go in there in the future.
DDA Coordinator Steve Dobis gave updates on the two beautiful "Rock" areas here in Bridgeport.  I do love those two areas. Also some updates on other landscaping maintenance areas here in Bridgeport and thanked the community members who sponsor these areas.
The gorgeous flower pots will be back this year.  They should be out during the week around Memorial Day.
The next DDA Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 8th.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting February 7th, 2017

On the agenda:
Public Comment begins at 4:33 (Presentation by Bridgeport Spaulding School Superintendent)
New Business -
- Resolution R17-04 Michigan Municipal Executives begins at 17:49
- Town Board Meeting Schedule for May 2017 begins at 22:23
- Fire Department Service Awards begin at 23:46
- Firefighter of the Year Award begins at 25:27
- Police Department Officer of the Year Award begins at 26:38
- Township Employee of the Year Award begins at 28:09
- Police Officer Oath of Office - Jeffrey Madaj begins at 31:06
- Police Officer Oath of Office - Daniel Hernandez begins at 33:37
- St. Matthews Walk for Hunger begins at 36:28
- Renters Deposit forum meetings begins at 37:56
Board Member Comments begin at 41:22

The meeting started out with a presentation during the public comment period by Carol Selby Superintendent of the Bridgeport Spaulding School District and Pete Basile the Chief Financial Officer for the school district.  Carol Selby gave a update on where they are concerning Atkins Elementary and their Priority School Status, and the work they are doing with the states School Reform Office.  She also gave the board members several handouts that have been sent to the parents of Atkins students.  I will share them in a separate blog post because I want to dedicate one entire post to all the latest updates concerning the schools.
Pete Basile talked about the tax proposals that will be on the ballot for a special election on May 2nd.  One is the renewal of the 18 mill non-homestead tax for the schools.  This is not a new tax, just a renewal of 10 year tax that has already been on the books.  This renewal will now also include properties from Buena Vista Township that have been absorbed into the Bridgeport Spaulding School District.  This tax renewal is only on Non-Homestead properties.  There was also a 6 mill Debt tax that has been on the books but that will now expire I believe and will be replaced by a new 3 mill Safety Fund tax instead that will be for repairs and upgrades etc....  So it will actually be a decrease in your total tax amount going forward.  He says that the Bridgeport Schools are scheduled to be out of the deficit this June for the first time in 7 years.  I know they have been working hard on achieving that and it is critical for the future of our school district.  The future of our school district really depends on the passage of this 18 mill renewal and the 3 mills.  This is for the future of our children, our school district and our township so I am hoping that the Bridgeport residents will come out and VOTE YES on May 2nd.
Also because of the special election being held on May 2nd, the regular township trustee meeting for May has been moved to May 3rd.  I should also add that special elections are usually paid for by the townships, but the state has allocated special funds for this election so it will not cost Bridgeport any money.

Jaeleen Davis, the Vice President of the Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce also introduced herself during the public comment period and shared information about the upcoming Best of Awards Dinner and Awards that will be held on Thursday, February 16th at Candlelight Banquet Center here in Bridgeport.

There were awards presented by the Bridgeport Fire Department and the Bridgeport Police Department.  First up were service awards for the fire department employees.  Fire Fighter Kyle Kalnbach for 15 years of service, Fire Fighter Jason Leidel and Fire Department Captain Ron Boensch for 20 years of service, and Fire Chief Pat Nelson for 25 years of service.  Captain Ron Boensch was also recognized as the Fire Fighter of the Year. **The fire department is also looking for more volunteer fire fighters.
Also Bridgeport Police Officer Dennis Howe was honored as the Officer of the Year.  And Bridgeport Township employee Chris Cramer was honored as Employee of the Year.
Congratulations and Thank You to all the award recipients!!
Also Welcome to the two newest Bridgeport Police Department officers that were sworn in:  Jeffrey Madaj and Daniel Hernandez!!

The St. Matthews Church Walk/Run for Hunger will take place this year on Sunday, September 24th.
The township will also be holding two forums for landlords concerning the handling of renters deposits for water and sewage.  The township will be sending out letters to all landlords.  The meetings will be held at the Governmental Center on February 27th at 12 Noon and on February 28th at 6pm.
During the board member comments, Rose Licht gave updates on two local businesses that will be adding some jobs this year - KUKA Assembly and Test Corp. and Orchid Unique Instruments.
There will also be a water main project that will be taking place this spring on Tatham and some of the side streets.  There will be also a gas line project that will last about 4 months and will be out around Sheridan, East Moore, Dorwood, Curtis and Townline Roads.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bridgeport Township Meetings & Holiday Schedules

Here is the meeting schedule for the Bridgeport Township Trustee Board meetings and the holiday hours for the township offices for 2017.  The DDA Board meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 12 Noon.  All meetings are held in the Bridgeport Governmental Center.
And my yearly reminder that all Bridgeport residents can sign up for the Constant Contact emails from the township.  The emails keep you updated on a wide variety of information that is important and informative for residents.  You can sign up on the township website http://www.bridgeportmi.org/

Friday, February 3, 2017

Expanded Video Of Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting October 24th, 2016

This is a video of the school board meeting from October 24th, 2016.  There was first a presentation by Yeo & Yeo and then a workshop for the school board members with Deb Macon from the MASB.  I only stayed for part of that workshop and so in the original blog post I only posted the first part of the video with the presentation from Yeo & Yeo.  This video includes also the part of the workshop that I stayed through.

2017 Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting Schedule and Member Directory

Here is the school board schedule posted for 2017:

click on the photo to see larger version

And here is the member directory for the school board members:

 I try to also attend the various committee meetings held by the school board when I am aware of them and able to attend.  Anyone can contact Robin Johnson in the school board office and request to be added to a email list to be notified of any school board meetings, changes etc...  You can also check the Board Of Education page on the Bridgeport Spaulding School website: http://www.bscs.k12.mi.us/BoardofEducation
There has not been a Finance/Building & Grounds Committee meeting since August 2016.  The last Personnel Committee meeting was held in August 2016.  The last Policy Committee meeting notice that I can find in my email was from February 2016.  There is also a Curriculum Committee.   There was a meeting held for them in October 2016.  I can not find any email notice for that meeting but I don't think I would have been able to attend even if I had known about it.  That would have been a good meeting and one that the public probably would have been interested in.
If I get any notice of any upcoming meetings I will try and attend. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Special Meeting January 30th, 2017

This was a special meeting for the school board. Deb Macon from the MASB provided training on how school boards are to do the yearly Superintendent evaluations.
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this video uploaded.  The meeting is 3 hours long so it takes a very long time to upload to YouTube.  I started uploading it on Monday evening and after over 24 hrs of uploading, it crashed and burned.  So I started uploading it for the 2nd time on Wednesday morning.  After 34 hrs it was successfully uploaded and processed for viewing on YouTube.
This meeting was just the training session, no other school board business.  My battery finally died about 1 minute before the MASB trainer was finished.  There was just school board member closing comments after that.  Carol Selby did give some updates on how they are working with the School Reform Office to provide them with the information they are requesting.
* I almost forgot to add the information and link to the MASB website.  They have an excellent website with lots of information.  Their main page is http://www.masb.org/  
and the link to the section for the Superintendent evaluation can be found at http://www.masb.org/supteval 

I feel the need to add some information here because of a comment that was made during the training session.  I am no videographer or skilled in editing videos.  That should be very obvious by my videos that I post.  I also don't alter these videos in any way.  There were only two videos that may be considered altered.  There was a Finance Committee meeting back in early 2016.  They are not supposed to discuss  student or staff names publicly but there were names mentioned in this one.  At the request of the Superintendent I tried to edit out the 1 or 2 minute section when the names were mentioned.  But I failed, I ended up with only that small section that I was trying to edit out.  Luckily I was able to undo my failed edit and leave the whole video intact.  I changed the privacy setting on the video from public to private so it could not be viewed and was going to go back another day and try again to just edit out the names.  I never have tried to edit it again, but I have now gone back and made the video public again.  So anyone can view it now, names and all.
There was another regular board meeting back in the fall of 2016.  It was another workshop training session by Deb Macon from the MASB.  I didn't stay for the entire workshop and I really didn't figure that anyone would be interested in watching half of the workshop so I was able to edit that one to cut out the workshop part.  I mentioned in the blog post that I had not uploaded the full video with the workshop included.  I had learned from my almost disastrous failed attempt at editing the other video to first make a copy of the video.  So I do have the original video with part of the workshop included.  If there is anyone that would like to view it, just let me know and I will upload it and post it.
Viewers will notice "breaks" in some of the longer videos.  That is due to me having to change the camera battery.  I used to always note that at "1:45:30" in the video that you will see a break due to my changing the camera battery, but I have gotten lazy and have not been mentioning that.  I figured that anyone that has been watching these videos for any amount of time would figure that out by now.  But I will go back to doing that again.  I can't always find the exact point where the break is, but I will try.  Viewers will also notice "breaks" in the videos when the board does things like go into closed sessions.  Or in this meeting, they took a short break because the meeting was so long.  The breaks come from me turning the camera off and then back on when they return to the meetings.  I don't usually mention the time period that it happens because it should be obvious why there is a break there.  Now I borrowed a new camera from someone to tape this meeting.  It is higher quality and has a much longer battery life, but I had no familiarity with this new camera.  I don't know why but I ended up with 7 different video segments instead of the one continuous video that the other camera always gave me.  I am "assuming" all the segments are there, but I haven't actually watched the entire 3 hr video to be sure.  I had to combine those 7 segments to make them all one video.   That took over two hours.  I have watched different sections to see if there is a visible break, but I couldn't find any.

I can't promise that I will make it to every school board or township board meeting.  When I think about the school board, I don't even want to go to those meetings. But there have been enough people contacting me and encouraging me to continue, so I will be going. The school did hold a town hall type forum to discuss Atkins Elementary but I was not aware of the meeting so I missed it.  They may be holding another town hall type forum in the future and I will attend and share the video.  I would like everyone to have the accurate information about everything that is going on rather than the hysteria and misinformation that I have seen being posted online on social media.

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting January 11th, 2017

On the agenda:
Special Orders -
- Reappointment of Members begins at 0:55
- Election of Officers begins at 3:00
Public Comments begin at 8:00
New Business -
- Personal Property Tax Exemption begins at 9:00
- McNally Foundation - North Gateway Maintenance begins at 18:30
Old Business -
- 6379 Dixie - Former Days Inn begins at 19:30
- 2017 DDA Coordinator's Schedule begins at 22:30
- Motion / Approval of Monies for Dixie Highway Improvements begins at 26:47
- Cass River Trailhead Update begins at 35:35
- Canoe Launch Update begins at 42:32
DDA Coordinator's Report begins at 44:25
DDA Board Member Comments begin at 47:13
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved