School Board chooses officers, changes meeting times

Craig Johnson
Craig Johnson

An animated discussion and a motion passed in a split vote has resulted in the Princeton School Board changing its meeting schedule to the first and third Tuesdays of each month, with the start time staying at 7 p.m.

For many years, the schedule has been the second and fourth Tuesdays.

School Board Member Craig Johnson asked for the change, explaining that his work schedule conflicts with the board meeting schedule. He had asked for the change before this year for the same reason.

The motion to make the change passed, Johnson, Deb Ulm, Eric Minks and Chad Young voting in favor of the the measure. Board Members Chuck Nagle, Howard Vaillancourt and Jeremy Miller voted no.

When the board enacted the change at its Jan. 14 meeting, Chair Deb Ulm declared that it is not unusual for some school boards, at the start of each calendar year, to change their meeting schedule to fit the board members’s schedules. But for the Princeton School Board, changing the meeting schedule is “highly unusual” because it has kept the same schedule for so many years, Ulm added.

The motion for the change was for it to take effect right away. But minutes later, Superintendent Julia Espe noted that the school district’s facilities options committee was scheduled to meet with the School Board on Jan. 28, the fourth Tuesday of the month. The board then decided to have the new meeting schedule take effect in  February.

During discussion of the motion, Nagle said his main reason for opposing the board changing its meeting dates is that people running for a school board position will factor in their work and personal schedules to make sure they fit the board schedule. Therefore, if someone were elected to the board counting on the board keeping its traditional schedule and then the board changes it, the new member would be at a loss, Nagle explained.

Nagle also said that by changing meeting times after someone gets elected, it carries the potential of a majority of board members changing the meeting schedule as a way of forcing someone off the board, knowing the person would have a time conflict.

Ulm said that is not what board members are trying to do in seeking a change in the meeting times.

Johnson, early in the discussion, suggested the board only have one regular business meeting per month and then have one workshop meeting per month. Responding to Nagle’s comments, Johnson said the potential is “always there” to ask for a change in the board meeting schedule and that the majority could carry the motion.

Vaillancourt said he could see Nagle’s point. Vaillancourt explained that he has adjusted his schedule “professionally, medically and personally” around the board meeting schedule into April. Vaillancourt added that there have been board members who had to leave the board because they could not adjust to the meeting schedule due to marital status, spousal transfers and health issues.

“And my line on this is that I can look incompetent and ineffective on my own. I do not need someone to change dates that I have basically chosen until next June to work around because of someone else having problems,” Vaillancourt said.

Election of officers

Board members re-elected Ulm as chair for the new year, elected Miller as vice chair, Minks as clerk, Young as acting clerk and Vaillancourt as treasurer.