NEW HAVEN — A newly elected board member’s request for more information sparked a lengthy discussion Tuesday during an East Allen County Schools board meeting.
Board members debated the need for an estimated cost included in the listing of employee training opportunities that are approved regularly by the board.
Board member Arden Hoffman said he requested the change at the previous meeting and asked why it hadn’t been added to this round of training requests.
“You’re asking us to sign a blank check and accept it, and I’m not going to do it,” he said.
Superintendent Karyle Green said many of the trainings have already been approved through the approval of contracts with outside consultants. The district also has policies in place for what can or cannot be reimbursed as well as maximum amounts for items like meals and an approved budget for training.
Member Bill Hartman said the overall budget for training serves as a check and balance for the administration.
Hoffman provided examples from other school districts that provide a cost along with requests for board approval of training opportunities.
Business manager Kirby Stahly said the request is possible but required more direction on how specific and accurate the amount should be.
“I would feel more comfortable with a number that’s too high than with no number at all,” board member Bob Nelson said.
The debate began after the board approved to accept the agenda items, including the resolution to approve training opportunities.
Hoffman moved to remove the resolution to approve the training requests, but the motion was denied in a tie 3-3 vote. Member Terry Jo Lightfoot left the meeting before any votes took place. The training requests and other items on the board’s action agenda were approved 4-2, with Hoffman and Nelson dissenting.
It was decided during board discussion that Stahly would provide an estimate to the board based on an employee estimate of the cost of training.
Hartman expressed concern about increasing the workload for the administration and the role of the board in doing so.
“We’re giving marching orders that are more management and not policy,” he said.
The board approved to amend Green’s contract and move her evaluation from January to August to allow more data from the state Department of Education.
Green announced at the previous board meeting that she is not seeking an extension of her contract when it expires June 30, 2014.