Board Minutes:


Board minutes have evolved over the years from being totally comprehensive as they were when I was on the Board of Trustees in the 1990's to being not very comprehensive at all.

When I served on the Board from 1991-1995, minutes were kept by the Board Secretary for every regular meeting that we had.  That meant that the names of the board members who were there were noted, and if one of them were absent, the reason for the absence was noted.  That way if someone, say Joe Adams, didn't come much of the time for a whole year, that absence was noted and noticed.  Also, if someone, say Joe Adams, came late to the meetings, that lateness was also noted. Also if someone, say Jim Williams, just got up and left the meeting in the middle of it and never came back, that was noted.  Or if someone, say Mary McGarr, never missed but one meeting (when her father died) in the five years that she served, that also was able to be known.

When motions were made, and in those days, when anyone could put anything on an agenda and anyone could make a motion because that was the law, the person who made the motion as well as the person making the second, as well as the motion itself, could be noted.  Then after the discussion, and everyone could join in the discussion, an accounting of who said what was also noted.  Finally when there was a vote, that also was recorded as to who voted "aye" and who voted "no" and who abstained and if the measure passed.

That way, as time passed and the information was needed, anyone could go back and look at the minutes and know who voted for what and when!

Sometimes that matters.  For instance, when I ran against Garry Weiss the first time I ran for the school board, I went to the Ad Building and read the minutes for the three years he had already served looking at his votes.  After all, an incumbent ought to have to run on his record.  I discovered that Mr. Weiss had only voted "No" one time in the three years he had served.  That's certainly revealing, especially to me! (Of course now candidates don't run on their record or because they have educational issues, they run for the Board to protect boundaries, help their personal business, serve outside organizations or to make certain that the building program runs full speed ahead to help vendors and builders and contractors.)

The minutes were kept in big log type books and stored in the Superintendent's vault.  I suppose they are still there.  But they are accessible, and anyone can request to look at them.  These days they will have someone to monitor you while you look, but that's just the way they do things these days. We don't trust "them," and they don't trust "us."

Now, the minutes are "on line."  Or sort of.  There are "Board Notes" instead of actual minutes.  These notes are about four inches of recapitulation with sound bites of what was accomplished at the meeting.  There's no record of discussion, no record of motions, no record of who said what or how they voted.  They don't want the public to know all of that.

They still keep minutes, but they aren't much better than the "Notes."  And it's hard to find them.  You can if you look. They'll be with the supporting documents a month later for the Work Study or the Regular meeting.  I doubt that any board member reads them or offers corrections.  I read them and offered corrections every month!  But that's just me.

The good thing now is that you can actually view the board meeting in all it's boredom on line.  They are boring because everything is controlled, everything is decided before the board meeting, and there is not much discussion, either because there is nothing to discuss or because the board members aren't informed enough to discuss anything--take your pick. Most of what the Board is voting on is listed in something called the Consent Agenda.  That's a means of hiding the things for which they are voting.  It's another way to dupe the public.

For example when the Board maneuvered to make it so that the ability to put an item on the agenda took THREE BOARD MEMBERS!!!! they did that in the dark of night before the election of 2006 when they were afraid that the Watchdog candidates Tom Law and Fred Hink might both be elected.  The board doesn't like their detractors being able to place items on the agenda because then they have to actually vote no on things they don't necessarily like and that lets the public know what they are really thinking and what their politics are!  So this change to the Board Policy had not been voted on in a public meeting when Tom Law (but not Fred Hink) got elected to the Board.  Even so, between May when he got on the Board and August Mr. Law was told that he could not put items on the Agenda without TWO other board members agreeing even though no such policy existed!  In August, in the Consent Agenda, where Mr. Law, not being savvy as to the slick nuances of board membership, could not even dream they would put it, the business about the "it takes three to put an item on the agenda" was placed, and Mr. Law voted FOR something against which he had campaigned for months!

Not a very nice thing to do to a new Board member, but typical of the Katy Board of Trustees.

Of course, if you want to look at anything prior to a year ago, you will have to have been saving and copying these recorded sessions, because they take them down so as not to allow supporting evidence of their flawed performances to be on display!

The changes started with Superintendent Leonard Merrell.  He is the one who didn't want an accounting of the meetings in detail.  Alton Frailey limited the information even more.  Give credit to Terry Huckaby and Bill Proctor for getting the meeting recorded and on line. That was a suggestion of mine 25 years ago, and I was never able to bring it about, so a pat on the back for them in getting it done. The ability for the District to put the meetings on line has existed for about 30 years! Can anyone say "Drag your feet and maybe these people will go away"?

Look for the recorded meetings to go away for one reason or another if these two board members lose their upcoming elections. (Almost as soon as Proctor and Huckaby were gone, KISD stopped filling Open Records requests.  I filed two in May, and this is July and I still don't have them! I finally got those, but they are dragging their feet again with two I filed in July (I'm writing this in September!)

The limiting of information is the product of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).  Those are non-governmental organizations that you and I fund with our tax dollars, and with leadership from the likes of Merrell and Frailey,  and they work with compliant legislators (like Bill Callegari) to change the law while none of us are looking so that things are better for administrators and not so good for students and teachers and taxpayers. 

Having smart board members who care and who understand the issues is paramount in keeping school administrators from giving away the farm and taking as much of it as they can for themselves. More smart people should offer to run for the school board, and those of us who are smart (and there are a lot of us in this community) should vote out the current ones in favor of some smarter board members.  Hopefully if elected they would also find us a smarter superintendent.

Katy has lazy parents these days who do not wish to go to any trouble and so let others do what they want.  Katy parents, in my opinion, deserve what they get for not paying attention to our schools.  When their kids can't go to college, when they can't get a job if they do go to college because they majored in some dumb thing which was the only thing they were qualified to do, and when they come home to live with mom and dad, I hope they remember that I tried to get them to take care of matters, and they were too busy!