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Article posted: 7/12/2013 5:22 PM

D211 board debates how 'transparent' motions, minutes should be

By Jessica Cilella

Tempers flared at a recent Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board of education meeting over how specific board members want meeting motions and minutes to be.

The argument began when the board reviewed a suggested motion under new business Thursday to approve a pre-approval form from a board member for a future expense reimbursement.

Board secretary Anna Klimkowicz noted that the motion did not include details of what that expense was. She clarified that it was a fee for board member Robert LeFevre to attend a school board conference in November.

The board approved the expense, but had a lengthy discussion about the motion's language.

"I think we need to be a little more specific in all of our motions instead of just saying 'as presented,'" Klimkowicz said, adding that for future items regarding board member expenses, she would like to see the name of the board member and what conference or workshop they will be attending.

Board member George Brandt said he thought Klimkowicz was "cherry-picking" one item.

"You approved a motion earlier that the board of education approve a check listing amount of $16.4 million. How much is the board expense? A couple hundred dollars?" he said. "When we spend $16.4 million, you didn't seem to care. I just don't understand this. We're wasting a lot of valuable time."

Klimkowicz said all the expenses were important to her, and asked why Brandt kept arguing against more detail to the board member expense motion.

"I'm not arguing against it. Do it all," he responded bluntly. "I want every single check in the motion, so that everybody knows what we spend our money on. I don't want to hear about one expense for one board member. I want all of this listed then."

"You can't just take a small piece and say that's what I want," he added. "It's all or nothing with this kind of stuff."

LeFevre said the board has received guidance on the structure, format and nature of agenda write-ups and minutes from district attorneys, and that they were fine as is.

"Anybody who wants the information has access to it. There isn't anything they can't access" he said, adding that he feels adding more detail creates an unnecessary amount of work for district staff members when "probably, nobody reads it."

LeFevre also noted the district has won awards for transparency because "everything that people desire is already on our website."

But Klimkowicz said there is room for improvement.

"For transparency, going down the road, I really think we have to state what our motions are. We've been very good at doing that. There's just a couple things that we've missed along the way," she said.

LeFevre responded by saying transparency is "the stuff that happens outside of the meeting, the stuff that's not on the website."

"Transparency is not what you do and show people that they can look at. It's everything that you do that they can't readily find out," he said. "Transparency isn't what you feed people. It's your behavior when you're not in front of the camera."

Board vice president Mucia Burke said she saw both sides of the issue.

"I hear it Mrs. Klimkowicz's way that, if I was just wanting to read the minutes ... I should be able to get a solid snapshot of what was voted on," she said. "'As presented' could be anything. If I'm trying to get a snapshot of what we did, I would then have to go dig through all these other documents."

Board member Mike Scharringhausen said he understands Klimkowicz's desire to be transparent, but he believes the expenses are already very transparent.

"The documents are all online," he said. "I don't know how much more transparent you can get."

Eventually, board president Bill Robertson suggested that since there was not a consensus, the topic could be put on a future meeting's agenda. But Klimkowicz had stated earlier that if the board was not in favor of adding more detail to the motions, to leave them alone.

"It's not worth being an agenda item. It really isn't," she said, visibly frustrated.

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