Friday, June 30, 2006

Repurcussions of Ranting

Apparently I whipped myself into some sort of righteous fury as a result of yesterday's post. I went to a meeting last night, and behaved as I keep wishing I HAD behaved about an hour after I've left most meetings. But last night, none of that. It was practically performance art--I was ON.

And I wasn't a bitch.

I didn't yell or flail around--I simply kept saying exactly what I wanted to say and was not swayed.

That shouldn't be such a great accomplishment, but really, it is. At least for me. These meetings are at least 3 hours long, sometimes 7 or more hours.

We finally have some extra money. So the question becomes, do we hold on to the extra in order to grow our reserve so that we can fully step away from County oversight? Or do we restore some of the cuts from past years?

My mentor on the board was making a very strong case for growing the reserve, and I sincerely do not want to get into a tussle with him. However, another Board member made a very strong argument for re-instating a rather non-sexy program. Custodial services.

I wouldn't call what happened next a fight, there were no raised voices, no threats, no gnashing of teeth. However, for every time one person said, "Here are my reasons for not spending at this time," I would return with, "I heard that, but I'd like to discuss bringing something back now." Every time. Which begins to send a message.

By the end of the evening, we had done a great thing: We brought back Class Size Reduction at the Ninth Grade for English and Math courses. We also approved the hiring of an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, and we approved a part-time secretary for that position. We also restored custodial services to where they were before the District discovered shortfalls about five years ago.

At the very, very end of the meeting, I realized how hard this discussion had been on all Board members. We had held it together during the big conversation, but I got into a fight with a colleague at the very end of the meeting which only demonstrated how tightly wound we both were. I hate those.

It was over nothing--whether or not an item requested should go on a future agenda--but it quickly spiralled into accusations of trying to go back on a previous vote, or a demonstration of lack of loyalty (although the word itself was not used). I did raise my voice over this one, which I shouldn't have, but continued to say that I wanted an item on a future agenda. (I wanted a discussion, she thought I was asking for a new vote.)

But my equally tightly-wound colleague kept insisting that my item didn't need to go on a future agenda. (Which is unusual. Most of the time Board members just make any request they wish. Whether or not it goes on the subsequent agenda is up to the Superintendent, but usually we just call out our requests at the very end of the meeting with no further comment, while the Superintendent scribbles notes. This meeting, however, another Board member was objecting to the request itself.) She and I went back and forth, getting more and more heated, until I let loose with my, "I Agree With You" speech:

I agree with you. I want to discuss this in public. By law we cannot discuss any item which has not been agendized. Could we please agendize this? Because I Agree With You. I do not want to vote again on the issue, but you are bringing forward information that this will not cost us any money. Which is a Good Thing. I'd like to talk about it. Could we talk about it at the next meeting? That's ALL I'm asking for. Because, one more time, I Agree With You.

I got my item on the agenda.

But now I'm fairly sure I'm in the doghouse. Usually my friends on the Board call the next morning to rehash what went down, or what needs to happen next.


I'm thinking they no likey the Suisan who practices her rant the day before.

Oh well. At least I'm not going to be spending all day on the phone. Damn. That means I have to finish laundry. Gah.